On July 13, HUD issued Notice H 2015-06, which provides guidance on how the Equal Access Rule applies to HUD Multifamily insured and assisted housing. The Equal Access Rule, published on February 3, 2013, is intended to ensure that housing across all HUD programs is open to everyone regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status (see Memo, 2/3/12).
The rule applies to owners or administrators of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing, lenders in FHA mortgage insurance programs, and other recipients or sub-recipients of HUD funds. The Notice reiterates key features of the Equal Access Rule, including prohibiting asking people about their sexual orientation or gender identity for the purpose of determining eligibility or otherwise making housing available. However, inquiries about an applicant’s or occupant’s sex is allowed for the purposes of determining placement in temporary, emergency shelters with shared bedrooms or bathrooms, or for determining the number of bedrooms to which a household may be entitled.
The Notice states that HUD or a Contract Administrator may review an owner’s tenant selection plan or other policies and procedures to determine compliance. In addition, the HUD civil rights review conducted at the time of the Management and Occupancy Review may include a review to determine compliance.
The Notice reminds owners and others that more extensive guidance is in Chapter 2 of HUD Handbook 4350.3, Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs, which has yet to be updated to reflect the Equal Access Rule. Section 4 of Chapter 2 provides direction for applicants or tenants who experience discriminatory treatment. In addition, instructions for contacting HUD are on the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) website at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_discrimination
The Notice elaborates on enforcement procedures and options if HUD determines that an owner has failed to comply.
A HUD media release is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2015/HUDNo_15-086
Notice H-2015-06 is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=15-06hsgn.pdf