On Saturday, at the Annual Creating Change Conference in Baltimore, Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced a new Equal Access to Housing Rule prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in HUD programs. Only 15 states currently prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The benefits of this rule are wide-reaching, particularly for so many of our families who are low-income, relying on HUD programs to maintain safe shelter.
The rule has four main provisions.
- The definition of family is amended to prevent exclusion in HUD housing programs of LGBT people, people in LGB relationships, and people perceived to be LGBT or in an LGB relationship;
- Owners and operators of HUD housing are prohibited from asking whether a someone is LGBT and are prohibited from denying anyone housing on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status;
- LGBT families are explicitly eligible for HUD’s public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs;
- Lenders providing Fair Housing Act mortgages cannot take into account a borrower’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Today, I am proud to announce a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose,” said Secretary Donovan at Saturday’s conference.
Family Equality Council applauded the rule when it was first proposed in January of 2011. See our comments on the rule, when we proposed that “marital status” be included in the nondiscrimination provisions. As Family Equality Council and so many of our partners noted, it is not enough to prohibit a housing provider from asking whether a person is LGBT. Many of our families cannot hide who they are; thus, protecting from discrimination on the basis of marital status is essential.
The final rule will be published shortly in the Federal Register and will go into effect 30 days later. We will have a more in-depth analysis of the rule after publication.