Who says landlords don't rent to deaf people?
The ones I know all have places to live!
Lies.http://www.thestar.com/living/article/1 ... =1#articleThirty applications for an apartment. No replies
Quinn Cruise on the balcony of her new home .Cruise is deaf and has found that landlords don't reply to her emails when she tells them she's deaf.
Zero for 30. That was my batting average last year when I began looking for my first apartment. Pretty bad, I know. I’m a 25-year-old woman but an apartment newbie because I previously spent four years in residence at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York.
The first problem I had was price. When I started my hunt I thought $500 would get me a nice room close to George Brown College, where I am studying to be a chef. Not even close.
My second problem was getting to interviews. People in Toronto don’t seem to realize that apartment hunters might live out of town. In fact, they seem kind of suspicious if you are from the suburbs let alone the country, which is where I live.
But my biggest problem, and the reason for my complete lack of success, was something different: I answered for-rent ads on various sites trying to make myself sound interesting and reliable. And by the way, I added at the end, I’m also deaf.
Zero for 30. I didn’t get a single reply. Not one! When I removed the word “deaf” from my email, responses flowed in. Funny how one word can make such a big difference.
That created another problem. How could I show up to an interview and explain why I didn’t tell them about the deaf thing?
The answer to that was Mom. Still awkward.
My mother came along as interpreter. I have to admit that I was very nervous about how people would react. Would landlords think that I am not mature enough to be on my own, because my mother was there? Would they think a deaf roommate would be just too weird?
My first apartment interview gave me a hint of what would follow. The door opened; the owner smiled. Confusion followed and he couldn’t take his eyes off the flying fingers. He was speechless.
I wanted to say, “Join the club,” but I wasn’t sure he’d get the joke. The hearing world is speechless to me.
I started to realize that people weren’t sure what to say or how to react without offending me. Each time I had to explain how to communicate. It was a bit funny, like I was a teacher with a scared student. But most people relaxed pretty quickly. Still, I didn’t get that first apartment or many others I saw. It is easy for people to step back the moment they hear the word “deaf” let alone when they try to deal with someone who is different. None of the hearing people I met had ever communicated with a deaf person before so they didn’t know what to do. Sometimes, after I told them (through my mother) that I can’t hear, they would just talk louder and louder. To tell the truth it was a little entertaining watching their faces contort as they tried to say words louder or more clearly.
I did finally get an apartment sharing a room with another person for $650 but I loved the woman who owned the condo and it was right at Dundas Square.
Now this year I am facing the hunt all over again. But another problem has arisen. Lots of people are including just phone numbers in ads, no email. It happened a couple of times last year and my mother faked it. Poor Mom, she worked so hard trying to sound young. I got pretty anxious waiting for her to finish pretending to be me so she could sign to me what they said. Then more worry about showing up and admitting it was my mother talking all along.
This time I have a TTY so I can use the relay service, which speaks for me as I type on the machine. But more problems! They know I’m deaf right off the bat. That zero for 30 is still in my mind. Will they might make a fast call and say, “apartment taken.”
I started to panic as the start of classes grew closer and still no apartment. I began praying for the days to go backward. Then my dream apartment appeared. It was on Lower Sherbourne, close to the beach, school, and (my foodie favourite) the St. Lawrence Market. It also had a big balcony with bed for planting a garden. I had to have it!
The potential roommate was male but I lived with three disgustingly messy guys at university in Rochester, NY. One guy — piece of cake. I rushed into Toronto for the interview. Fortunately I could text him to let him know I had arrived. Most times I was stuck waiting in the lobby until someone came in or out because I can’t talk on the intercom.
He came down to meet me. I shook his hand, used my voice to say hello then went right to paper and pen. Truthfully, he was a little surprised at first but pretty soon he was cool with the communication. He’s a chatty guy, even on paper.
And I got it! Oh sweet relief. Now I am counting the days until I move in.