This can't be legal! (Housing discrimination)

I’m graduating from Americorps on Friday, and after the Thanksgiving holiday I’m planning to move to New Orleans and get a job. I called a place that advertises rooms for rent on Craigslist, $100 a week. When I called, the fellow informed me that “we can’t put this on the ad”, but they don’t rent to women. Their renters are all males. I told him that some of the workers moving to New Orleans are women just like myself, and we need a place to live, too, but he remained firm.

That night, I was reading through a book our previous Americorps sponsor had given me, Get A Financial Life, and in one of the chapters there was a blurb about housing discrimination and that it’s illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of sex, race, age, etc. I called the phone number listed in the book and spoke to a Federal Housing person who said that yes, refusing to rent to me based solely on me being the wrong gender is discriminatory, and she’s mailing me a form so I can file a complaint. What annoys me is that there’s a place that will rent to me, but it’s $120 a week and further away from my potential job site than the place that refuses to rent to me. Damnit, $80 a month is a lot of money to me. All I want is to be able to rent a room just like anyone else. I’ve never filed any sort of discriminatory complaint before so I’m a little nervous.

Are these rooms as in an extra room at somebody’s house that isn’t being used? If so, I can understand the sex thing.

No, it is not a private residence.

something is very fishy here.
If the guy on the phone knows that he can’t put it the ad, then he knows that it is illegal.And if he knows that it is illegal, why did he tell you about it? He could have just said “sorry, we are fully occupied now”.

can we have more details?
Who is the landlord-(a private person or a corporation?)who is stupid enough to say this to you?
What type of housing? who are the other renters?

Unless this is some kind of shared housing, it sounds utterly bizarre, and clearly illegal.
And also illogical–where’s the profit for him in denying women renters?

I think private residences have some sort of protection, but unless this is a privately-funded or religious-based organization (like the YMCA was), I don’t think they can discriminate.

It’s a gym facility that also has housing people (well, males) can rent. Can they legally discriminate if they’re a gym?

Not that suprising. There’s a lot of housing discrimination jsut belwo the surface. Moi and I once had a landlord tell us that they didn’t take Section 8 renters, which was “good”, becuase “they weren’t our sort of people”. Which is to say poor, and maybe black. Needless to say, we didn’t rent from him. Guy has balls telling you he won’t rent to women, though. Usually they just make up some kind of excuse, so they don’t get reported.

The YMCA has it on their website that their facilities with residences are for “men only.”

In most states religious organizations and private clubs are exempt from “sex discrimination.” In additon the federal Fair Housing Act also allows for this. The Fair Housing act also excludes single family dwellings (such as a house with a room for rent) and owner occupied buildings with less than a total of 4 units.

If you want file a complaint with your fair housing board then forget it.

I know how it feels to be discriminated against, but the bottom line is, “do you really want to rent from someone who doesn’t want you there?” They’ll make your life miserable and in the end find some other way to get you out.

Isn’t there still a women-only residence hotel in NYC like the one in Bosom Buddies? Both public & private colleges still have single-sex dorms (women’s dorms being more common than men’s).

I happen to work at a YMCA and they have a men-only set of small apartments in the building. No idea if the local YWCA has an opposite arraingment, but I’ve met a couple of those guys. Good folks, mostly. Granted, they do have shared showers and weekly parole officer meetings for some of them…

There are actually a few of them. The NY Times did an interesting piece on them a couple weeks ago.

I lived on the same block of a couple of these rooming houses like the OP talks about. They were all rented to males, the majority of which were transients and sex offenders. I doubt the OP would want to live in such a place. They might not even have bathroom or shower facilities for women.

A private homeowner can be as discriminatory as they want re renting rooms their rooms privately. If a licensed sales or leasing professional or sales organization is involved at any point in a discriminatory transaction you may have a claim against that company, otherwise you are probably SOL. That’s probably why he is correct in stating that most Internet BBS don’t allow for ads with discrimination.

It’s odd they only want men. College age women are generally more desirable, less destructive tenants than college age men.

See this CL disclaimer

I think people are overlooking the fact that the OP already talked with someone from the FHA, and the FHA told her that she has the basis for filing a complaint. So that should be settled. To the OP: You’re doing the right thing and there’s nothing to be nervous about!!

I have lived in New Orleans and the person on phone may have been more interested in protecting you than into some type of sex discrimination. As you probably know, the lower income parts of New Orleans society get about as seedy as a they do in parts of Thailand. It is rare for males to refuse a female that wants to live around them them but the reverse isn’t true. It sounds like you haven’t seen the place and the person you talked to is just trying to steer you away from a bad situation. That is quite possible given the rent you are talking about. There isn’t anyway to know for sure right now but I wouldn’t automatically assume that someone doesn’t want you living in a place is doing it simply because of sex discrimination. That would be rather odd and quite rare there.

You can always do a reverse Bosom Buddies and butch up. Think you can pass as a man?