WHITTIER – When he asked his landlord if he could pay his $750 rent on the second Wednesday of the month instead of the first, Ricardo Castro didn’t think he was asking for much. After all, he wasn’t asking for a rent reduction, the Whittier man said. “I was just asking for time,” Castro said of his request more than a year-and-a-half ago to his landlord at the Whispering Fountains Apartments on Washington Avenue, where he has lived for two years. Castro, 57, is disabled with myriad ailments, including Bell’s palsy, diabetes, hypertension, gallstones and arthritis. He is on a waiting list for a liver transplant. His monthly Social Security check does not arrive until the second Wednesday of the month, and his $458 pension check, which arrives on the first of the month from his former job working in a factory, was not enough to cover the rent. The stress from dealing with his landlord, and his inability to have his rent date changed – even after Castro produced medical and financial records backing his claim – negatively affected his health, he said, especially his Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes the facial muscles to weaken or become paralyzed. “I thought I was having a stroke,” Castro said of the reoccurrence of the disease, which sent him to the emergency room last summer with symptoms of partial facial paralysis, slurred speech, headache and disorientation. After reading a story about a case similar to his in a newspaper, Castro contacted the Housing Rights Center, a private, nonprofit, housing-rights organization. “What Mr. Castro was asking was not unreasonable,” said Frances Espinoza, executive director of the Housing Rights Center. She said that the incidence of disability-based discrimination complaints has increased in the last four years. “Ten years ago, housing discrimination based on race accounted for the highest number of complaints,” Espinoza said. “Now, that’s No. 3.” The trend is not a local one. For the second year in a row, according to a report released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing discrimination based on disability and race topped the list of reasons why individuals filed complaints. Of the more than 10,328 discrimination cases filed nationwide, 40 percent were based on disabilities, while race-based discrimination accounted for 39.1 percent of the total, according to the report. California led the nation with the most complaints filed last year by those alleging housing discrimination based on race or disability. The state had 1,313 housing discrimination complaints overall last year, said HUD spokesperson Shantae Goodloe. Texas was second with 939, followed by Florida with 574 complaints. In Castro’s case, after the center’s demand letter was rejected, the group filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this year. A settlement between Castro and his landlord was reached March 22. The agreement allowed Castro to pay only $458 of last month’s rent, which will allow him to catch up financially and start paying the whole amount as of April 1. David Moring, attorney for Meadow Limited Partner, which owns Castro’s apartment building, said his client never sought to discriminate against the disabled. “It’s not a problem of disability,” he said. “It’s one of budgeting.” He explained that Castro, like all tenants, signed a lease agreement. Any change in the rental payment to accommodate one tenant would result in an “administrative nightmare,” he said. As for Castro, he will continue to try to meet the due date, or pay a $25 late charge. “I’m not trying to cause trouble,” said Castro. “I like living here; I like my neighbors. I just can’t understand why it can’t be changed.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!