The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced proposed housing-related regulatory changes explicitly protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Data from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality’s forthcoming survey on transgender discrimination in the United States was cited as evidence demonstrating the dire need for housing protections for the transgender community.
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.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and its New Beginning Initiative partners work with HUD and all the federal agencies on nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people and families. The Task Force through the New Beginning Initiative, a coalition of 26 local and national organizations, works to bring about changes for LGBT people such as the 2010 census reporting same-sex marriages and gender-marker changes on new passports.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
These are critically important reforms given that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people remain particularly vulnerable in seeking or retaining housing due to widespread bias, discrimination and a lack of housing protections. 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.
We’ve heard painful stories over the years from lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people who were discriminated against when trying to secure a home. These reforms will go a long way toward ending an injustice that has had such a profound and far-reaching negative impact on people’s lives. What this means for our community is greater access to and protections for safe and secure housing. 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.
In a forthcoming and groundbreaking survey of transgender discrimination in the United States, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality found that high unemployment, low incomes and high levels of housing insecurity all point to the need for safe, affordable public housing for transgender people. Currently there are no federal protections against housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Nineteen percent of survey respondents reported being denied an apartment or home because of their gender identity. In another question, 19 percent reported being homeless at some point in their lives. In terms of homeownership, transgender people were less than half as likely to own a home as the general population.