Currently, HUD requires recipients of discretionary funds to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity (see Memo, 6/11/10). In a January 20 media release, the department sought comment on definitional changes and lists. A proposed rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register on January 24. Specific changes would do the following:
· Prohibit lenders from using actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages or alter their terms.
· Clarify that eligible families may not be excluded from participation in HUD programs because one or more members are or are perceived as a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) individual or in an LGBT relationship.
· Prohibit HUD-assisted housing owners and operators from asking about an occupant’s or applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of whether a unit is renter or owner occupied.
In the advance notice’s background section, HUD referenced evidence suggesting that LGBT individuals and families do not have equal access to housing. It cited a 2007 Michigan Fair Housing Center study, which found disparate treatment in 32 out of 120 fair housing tests, as well as a National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force survey, which indicated significant levels of housing instability for transgender people.
HUD also announced that it will conduct a national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of homes.
To read HUD’s media release, go to http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2011/HUDNo.11-006
The department’s advance notice is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=LGBTPR.PDF
The Michigan Fair Housing Center report, Sexual Orientation and Housing Discrimination in Michigan, is at www.fhcmichigan.org/images/Arcus_web1.pdf
The National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Preliminary Findings, National Transgender Discrimination Survey is at http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/trans_survey_preliminary_findings