Friday, January 21, 2011

HUD Announces LGBT Housing Discrimination Study, Proposes New Rules

Seal of the United States Department of Housin... The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Thursday that it will be undertaking a study to determine the level of housing discrimination against LGBT Americans. This is big.

Every ten years HUD conducts a study of housing discrimination in rental and mortgage lending practices where race, ethnicity, sex, religion and national origin are the primary factors. This is the first time ever that the federal government has included sexual orientation and gender identity in its study.

The agency has also proposed a new rule that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Thursday's announcement included the following statement:
As the Nation’s housing agency, HUD administers programs designed to meet the goal of ensuring decent housing and suitable living environment for all.  In pursuit of this goal, it is HUD’s responsibility to ensure that all who are otherwise eligible to participate in HUD’s programs have equal access to these programs and have the opportunity to compete fairly for HUD funds without being subject to arbitrary exclusion.

There is evidence, however, that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families are being arbitrarily excluded from some housing opportunities in the private sector. Through this proposed rule, HUD strives to ensure that its core programs are open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a statement announcing the study and the rule change, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said, "This is a fundamental issue of fairness. We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

HUD provides financing through grants and loans to create quality, affordable rental housing for low income families as well as assisting first time home buyers with HUD backed loans. I was a HUD housing counselor in a previous career and taught seminars that helped first-time home buyers qualify for their first mortgages. This is great news!

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