Providing Fair Rental Housing for the Mentally-Disabled

Client: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)


Although testing has been done in some local and metropolitan areas related to the housing barriers faced by the disability community, as of 2015 no national estimate of the incidence of housing discrimination against persons with disabilities had yet been conducted, and research on housing discrimination against persons with mental disabilities is particularly limited.

The purpose of this on-going project is to increase HUD’s understanding of housing discrimination in the rental market on the basis of mental disability, including the forms and prevalence of such housing discrimination, by using findings discovered during the “Estimate of Housing Discrimination against Same-Sex Couples” study and building upon efforts supported by HUD almost a decade ago.


M. Davis and Company, Inc. performed the following tasks:

  • Established an Expert Panel to provide guidance to the Contract team and HUD over the course of the project;
  • Performed a systematic and rigorous review of a sample of housing discrimination complaints where mental disability had been the basis of complaint;
  • Developed a series of short papers on relevant topics (e.g. housing search practices of persons with mental disabilities, ethical considerations in paired testing with persons with mental disabilities, etc.); and,
  • Performed pilot testing to measure discrimination against persons with mental disabilities in a minimum of one metropolitan rental market, with the goal of demonstrating a potentially feasible approach to nationwide testing. Pilot testing was conducted using e-mail, telephone, and in-person test methodologies in selected rental markets nationwide


The results of the pilot test assisted HUD in its efforts to provide guidance to PHAs and advocacy groups as they attempt to measure the existence of both overt and subversive practices of discrimination by rental housing providers and correct its effects.

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