Study: Same-sex couples discriminated against in rentals - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Study: Same-sex couples discriminated against in rentals nationally

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According to a new national study, same-sex couples experience unequal treatment more often than other couples when inquiring about rental units, both online and in person -- though it doesn't seem to be occurring in the Cedar Valley. According to a new national study, same-sex couples experience unequal treatment more often than other couples when inquiring about rental units, both online and in person -- though it doesn't seem to be occurring in the Cedar Valley.
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

According to a new national study, same-sex couples experience unequal treatment more often than other couples when inquiring about rental units, both online and in person -- though it doesn't seem to be occurring in the Cedar Valley.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a first-ever nationwide study looking into discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market.

Ellie Hail and her partner Chris have been living in the Cedar Valley for five years. Although they haven't felt discriminated against, Hail said she wasn't surprised by the study's results.

"The concerns are, first, meeting with the landlord, are they even going to be receptive in that first meeting?" Hail said. "And then, once we come to that agreement, living in a multi-unit dwelling, well, what about the neighbors and the people who live next door and across the street -- are we going to have any problems?"

The HUD study was based on nearly 7,000 email tests conducted in 50 metropolitan markets across the country.

A key finding in the study noted same-sex couples experienced discrimination in the online rental housing market and received fewer responses to email inquiries than a control group of heterosexual couples.

The City of Waterloo hasn't seen many cases of housing discrimination involving same-sex couples, however.

"It's an issue wherever we go, but it's not as big of a problem here in the Cedar Valley to our knowledge," said Abraham Funchess, Director of the Waterloo Commission on Human Rights. "But it could be in other places."

For couples who just haven't come forward, Funchess's office is available for issues such as this.

"We'll be glad to investigate the case to see whether or not your case has merit," he said. "But obviously we are here to protect your rights, and we want to do the best we can to improve your quality of life."

It's an issue some think Iowa would be ahead of, since the state passed marriage equality four years ago.

"I think, because it's not a national thing yet, it's going to take some time and there (are) still people who are going to hold strong to their own beliefs," said Hail.

The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, but that isn't the case in all states.

According to the study, states with legislative protections showed slightly more adverse treatment for gays and lesbians than in states without protections.

Iowa Civil Rights Act: http://www.state.ia.us/government/crc/Areas/Fair%20Housing.html

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights: http://www.ci.waterloo.ia.us/images/HumanRights/pdf/Race_brochure.pdf

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