HOME Act prohibits anti-LGBT discrimination in housing

By: Rick Mula, Task Force Holley Law Fellow

The Task Force applauds the recent re-introduction of the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and John Conyers (D-MI).

The HOME Act would amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income or marital status in the sale, rental and financing of housing, as well as in brokerage services. It would also clarify that a seller or landlord must continue to avoid discrimination even after the purchase or the lease is signed. Currently, the Fair Housing Act protects against housing discrimination based on race or color, religion, sex, national origin, family status or disability.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) states:

LGBT Americans, non-traditional families, and the disabled should not be subjected to housing discrimination at the hands of the unscrupulous or bigoted. This legislation will ensure that the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act are actually protecting ALL Americans and guaranteeing people of any sexual orientation, gender identity, marital and familial status, and source of income the right to the housing they choose.

Additionally, the HOME Act would expand protections based on familial status and disability. Familial status would explicitly include foster parents and anyone standing in loco parentis of an individual (i.e., those with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child). Prohibited discrimination against disabled individuals would include the failure to provide reasonable accommodations.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing is pervasive, especially among transgender people. As data from the Task Force’s and National Center for Transgender Equality’s National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) shows, 19% of respondents were denied a home or apartment and 11% were evicted because they were transgender or gender non-conforming. While the general population has a home ownership rate of 68%, the NTDS survey showed only a 32% rate among transgender people.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently completed a study revealing that same-sex couples were less likely to receive a response to an inquiry for rental housing and were discriminated against by over 15% of the landlords. Most rejections came before landlords had any knowledge of the couple’s income, occupations or family characteristics. Every day, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals face unfair barriers to housing, one of our most basic needs. We need Congress to support the HOME Act in order to ensure fair housing opportunities for all Americans.