Today, at the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that they will issue a historic new rule strengthening housing discrimination protections for transgender people. The regulations will be published next week, and go into effect 30 days from then.
In his plenary address, HUD Secretary Donovan said:
“I am proud to announce a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose [...] If you are denying HUD housing to people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, actual or perceived, you’re discriminating, you’re breaking the law, and you will be held accountable. That’s what equal access means, and that’s what this rule is going to do.”
The new rule makes several urgently needed changes to current federal housing and housing-related programs including: prohibiting owners and operators of federally-funded or federally-insured housing, as well as lenders offering federally-insured mortgages from discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation;and clarifying the definition of “family” to ensure that LGBT families are not excluded from HUD programs.
According to Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE Policy Counsel, “this is a major and urgently needed advancement in basic protections for transgender people. NCTE is calling on other federal departments to follow HUD’s common-sense approach and use existing legal authority to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the programs they fund and administer. We applaud Secretary Donovan and the Obama Administration for this much needed relief for transgender people.”
Mara Keisling added “We are very pleased that, just as he said at NCTE’s Awards Ceremony in November, HUD has clearly listened to our concerns with earlier drafts of the regulations and made them even stronger.”
In announcing the draft rules early last year, HUD cited The National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, showing that 19% of transgender and gender non-conforming people had been refused a home or apartment and 11% had been evicted because of their gender identity or expression. The study also showed that 19% of transgender people have been homeless at some point in their lives, and 29% of those had been turned away from homeless shelters and a majority were harassed when they could get in to a shelter.