Landlords in Sarasota County Discriminating Against Disabled and Minorities

Apr 19, 2012

Landlords in Sarasota County appear to be discriminating against minorities and those with disabilities, according to a study by the firm Mullin & Lonergan Associates.

Minority and disabled investigators posing as prospective renters were quoted higher prices or were asked for more income information than white, non-disabled investigators. Rentals sometimes were available for whites but not for minorities.

The study found that Sarasota County landlords discriminated in two of five disability tests, and in three of four racial tests.

County officials told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that they don’t have the money to address this discrimination.

"They even suggested that the county should conduct covert undercover policing to catch these people in discriminatory acts," Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton said of the report's recommendations. "We're really not geared for that. I'm not real keen on hiring a bunch of undercover detectives."

Federal agencies would be more appropriate for investigating violations of federal law, he said.

This study was a requirement to receive federal housing grants. If Sarasota County doesn’t try to fix the problem they can be denied future grants.