The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted an new rule that will be important in the fight against discrimination by ensuring that all HUD core programs are open to eligible persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. This action will also support achievement of the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in helping to combat related stigma and discrimination due to HIV or perceived HIV. These serve as barriers in the prevention of HIV, especially for persons in unstable housing situations who have greater risks of infection. Stigma and discrimination are also barriers faced by persons living with HIV as shown in the tremendous disparities in their entry and retention in care. Secretary Shaun Donovan recently spoke about this new rule and other HUD actions to address LGBT housing discrimination issues at the 2012 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force “Creating Change” Conference. The Secretary stated “HUD is working to ensure that our housing programs are open to all” and that the rule states “clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have a right to live where they chose.” He also noted that the agency will work to provide training and guidance on this new rule. In acting together, with fair and equal access to housing, we can help create changes needed to achieve the promise shown in HIV care and treatment that we can live in an AIDS free generation.
The rule can be found in the Federal Register of February 3, 2012, p 5662. It includes provisions that:
- Require entities assisted by HUD or insured by FHA to make housing available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status;
- Clarify that the definition of “family” and “household,” which identifies who is eligible for HUD’s core programs, includes persons regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status;
- Prohibit HUD-assisted and HUD-insured entities from inquiring about an applicant’s or occupant’s sexual orientation or gender identity for the purpose of determining eligibility or otherwise making housing available;
- Prohibit FHA-approved lenders from basing eligibility determinations for FHA-insured loans on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
As published, the rule will go into effect on March 5, 2012. I hope you join with HUD and our local partners in managing these housing resources to make use of this new tool to ensure that all Americans have access to the safe decent and affordable housing in manner free from discrimination.