WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Jan. 20 proposed housing-related regulatory changes explicitly protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Data from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality’s forthcoming survey on transgender discrimination in the U.S. was cited as evidence demonstrating the dire need for housing protections for the transgender community.
“There is evidence suggesting that LGBT individuals and families do not have equal access to housing,” HUD wrote in the proposal, citing a study conducted in Michigan in 2007 which found that testers who posed as gay or lesbian were given false information and “mistreated” at fair housing centers.
The new rules would provide definitions for sexual orientation and gender identity for HUD programs and services; prohibit the owners or landlords of housing that is either HUD-assisted or HUD-insured from asking an applicant about sexual orientation or gender identity; prevent lenders of a mortgage insured by HUD from discriminating based on the real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of applicants; and make clear that participation in HUD-supported housing programs like the Section 8 voucher program is available to LGBT families who meet other qualification requirements.
“These are critically important reforms given that LGBT people remain particularly vulnerable in seeking or retaining housing due to widespread bias, discrimination and a lack of housing protections,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the NGLTF. “We’re talking about one of the most fundamental needs a person can have: shelter. Everyone should be able to obtain affordable housing free from discrimination, have a safe place to live and a roof over their head.
“HUD plays a major role in low-income housing programs and the private mortgage market. These proposed steps would do much to help our families. LGBT low-income families regardless of where they live will have equal access to HUD housing programs. LGBT people will be judged based on credit-worthiness for mortgages without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. And LGBT families would be included in the definition of family for HUD-related programs.
“We thank the Obama administration and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan for these proposed changes and look forward to full implementation.”
HUD welcomes comments about the proposed changes at http://www.regulations.gov. The policy will be instated 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register on Jan. 24.