Affordable housing where animals are allowed is challenging for pet owners – Daily News

Affordable housing where animals are allowed is challenging for pet owners – Daily News


“Seventy-three percent of dog owners agree that their pet brings them closer to their neighbors and 49 percent of cat owners said the same.” (Photo courtesy of

I try to practice moments of gratitude every day of the year. But around the Thanksgiving holiday, I tend to spend a bit more time reflecting on what I have in this world to be grateful for the most.

This year, what has been most on my mind is the gratitude I have for my wonderful husband, and the beautiful home we’ve built together. I feel safe and comforted in my home. For years, I never really gave much thought to it, and I certainly have taken it for granted more often than not.

Working in animal welfare, though, I see the safety and stability I have in my home through a very different lens.

So much of what modern animal shelters do now is help to support pet companions in crisis through safety net programs: offering resources like pet food, help with veterinary expenses, dog houses, litter boxes, and so much more. These important programs help keep animals with the people who love them, and out of the shelter.

Here’s the problem though. The one thing shelters are unable to support pet companions with is accessible, affordable, pet-inclusive housing.

That is to say, the number one reason most shelters are seeing record number pet surrenders is because pet owners are unable to find affordable housing where their beloved pets are allowed to live without breed restrictions or incurring arbitrary fees, outlandish pet deposits and pet rent.

A very dear friend of mine (and former colleague) recently started working on the “Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative,” a collaboration between Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute. It’s a position she was born to have given her talent and passion for helping animals and their people.

She sent me their 2021 Pet-Inclusive Housing Report that is full of fascinating data points with regard to this country’s increasing housing barriers for pet companions. Despite some of the staggering statistics, the report has a very hopeful tone that these issues are solvable with better thinking.

According to the report, “the rental housing industry would benefit from forward thinking pet policies. The building blocks are already in place: While a near-unanimous 93% of rental housing operators agree that pets are an important part of the family, 72% of rental housing residents say pet friendly housing is hard to find.”

The research was conducted online in 2019 among a nationally-representative sample of 1,299 residents and by phone with 551 property owner/operators, including a Los Angeles augment of 287 renters.

The report draws the important distinction between two marketing terms commonly used by property owner/operators: 1) Pet-friendly housing, and 2) Pet-inclusive housing.

Pet-friendly housing includes any housing that allows residents to have at least one pet, regardless of other restrictions. Non-pet friendly housing includes any rental housing that does not allow any pets.

Pet-inclusive housing represents housing with policies that allow residents additional flexibility on the number, type, size and breed of pets. Pet-inclusive housing is not only devoid of unnecessary restrictions on pets, it represents a welcoming environment in which pets and pet-owning households are seen as an asset to the communities where they live.

Obviously, pet-friendly housing is by far more the norm these days. On the surface, because “friendly” is in the term, one assumes that these property owner/operators actually welcome pet companions with open arms.

But sadly, it’s a very conditional and expensive kind of friendly…which isn’t all that friendly, if you ask me.

Owner/operators often cite the following reasons why they choose to restrict or even ban pets from their rental properties

  • The need to reasonably protect against physical property damages that are assumed to be caused by pets
  • The perceived risk of larger animals and certain pet breeds harming people, pets, or property
  • The desire to uphold a positive reputation of their residential communities
  • The responsibility to sustain the health and safety of the entire rental housing community

The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative acknowledges that “while these are legitimate concerns, each can be addressed in such a way that pets could be included in these properties and communities. Research shows that a strong case can be made that this will benefit both residents and property owner/operators.”

Here are some of the key findings from the report

Everyone loves pets. Like, everyone

Pets are widely considered important members of the family and represent a basis for common ground. Ninety-eight percent of residents with pets and 92% of all residents surveyed consider pets to be important members of the family. Ninety-three percent of property owner/operators agree.

Residents prefer neighbors who have pets

Pet owners are perceived to be nice, friendly, caring and good people by their neighbors. In comparison to others, including neighbors with children, pet owners are preferred by both pet-owning and non pet-owning residents.

No offense to my friends with children, but I have to agree that I’d much rather have neighbors with pets than kids. Sorry, not sorry.

Residents with pets stay longer

On average, residents in pet-friendly housing stay 21% longer than those in non-pet-friendly housing. This translates to residents staying about 10 additional months. In fact, 83% of owner/operators say pet-friendly vacancies are filled faster and 79% of owner/operators say pet-friendly units are easier to fill.

Here’s the bottom line, folks: Easing restrictions on pet-friendly housing saves lives. Restrictions on pets in rental housing is suppressing the number of homes available for pets.

Thirty-three percent of pet-owning residents say they would get another pet if restrictions on their rental housing were lifted and 35% of residents without pets would get a pet if restrictions were lifted.

According to the report, “With a common-sense easing of restrictions over time, up to 8.2 million more animals could find homes in pet-inclusive rental housing.”

Given that more than 1.5 million animals are euthanized in shelters across the country every year, we need to get that number sooner rather than later.

Making positive changes to pet policies creates a unique opportunity for rental housing operators who will become attractive to a wider pool of potential residents. As inflation continues to rise, the need for affordable pet-inclusive housing is becoming more critical than ever.

My wish for property owners/operators this holiday season is to go from being “pet-friendly” to being authentically “pet-inclusive” instead.

It’s a win-win for everyone, especially our animal friends.

For more information on the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, go to

As a child, Jack Hagerman founded and operated his own make-shift animal rescue — taking in stray cats, injured birds, and the occasional bunny. As an adult, he co-founded a critically endangered livestock conservancy on his farm in the Midwest, where he cared for and rehabilitated more than 400 animals in 17 different critically endangered livestock species. He formerly worked with Pasadena Humane and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society. When he isn’t working with animals, he’s writing about them — hoping to create a better world for our animal friends, one witty tangent at a time.

Affordable housing where animals are allowed is challenging for pet owners – Daily News

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