May 17, 2013

Fair Housing Means EVERYONE

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By Public Affairs Staff

This past Wednesday, Secretary Donovan spoke to the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) and highlighted the many accomplishments the Administration and HUD have realized on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) Americans:

HUD and this administration have taken historic steps in the area of housing to ensure that we fulfill our nation’s commitment to equality.

As part of its financial support for housing and urban development programs, HUD awards millions of dollars every year through competitive grant programs, funding that is announced by Notices of Funding Availability (or NOFAs).  HUD has long required that outstanding civil rights violations must be resolved before an applicant can be considered eligible to compete for funds. More recently, HUD added to its requirements that an eligible grantee may not have outstanding civil rights violations of a state or local law prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

HUD has included similar anti-discrimination provisions in other areas. For example, some courts in Title VII civil rights challenges have applied principles of sex discrimination for gender stereotyping, which has provided limited but important civil rights protections for transgender individuals. Expanding on this in 2010, HUD formally adopted the principle that housing discrimination because of non-conformity with gender stereotypes – essentially gender identity discrimination – is sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

The following year, HUD enacted an important rule:  Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. This rule does four important things to ensure that LGBT persons are not excluded from HUD’s programs:

  • It creates a broad requirement that housing falling within these categories is made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
  • It clarifies HUD’s definitions of “family” and “household” and reaffirms that these include all persons regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
  • It prohibits those funded by HUD or insured by FHA from asking about an applicant or occupant’s sexual orientation or gender identity for purposes of housing eligibility.
  • And finally, the rule prohibits FHA approved lenders from basing eligibility determinations for FHA-insured loans on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Earlier this year, HUD reached a historic agreement with Bank of America (BofA) to settle allegations the mortgage lender refused to provide financing to a lesbian couple and had illegally based its denial on the couple’s sexual orientation and marital status.

Moving forward, HUD will continue to aggressively investigate these kinds of violations. And, using our research arm, we’ll study and monitor trends in fair housing.   Next month HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research will release the first ever study of Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples.

As Secretary Donovan said to National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, “Housing opportunities should be available to ALL persons.”

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