HUD announced on May 22 that the agency will propose a forthcoming rule to weaken the enforcement of its Equal Access rule that provides important protections to LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness and seeking emergency shelter. The announcement came just one day after HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified before Congress that HUD had no intention of changing the rule.
NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel and 12 other civil and LGBTQ rights leaders strongly condemned the proposal in a press statement. Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) introduced the Ensuring Equal Access to Shelter Act (HR 3018) on May 23 to prevent HUD from amending the Equal Access rule to allow homeless shelters to deny transgender people equal access to services.
Weakening the Equal Access rule and its enforcement mechanisms is unacceptable. Access to shelter is a basic, fundamental necessity. LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers, and black LGBTQ youth have the highest rates of youth homelessness. One in three transgender people will experience homelessness in their lifetime, and 70% of trans people who have used a shelter have experienced harassment.
Coming on the heels of HUD’s proposed “mixed-status” rule to evict 55,000 American children from subsidized housing, this is another unconscionable HUD proposal to increase homelessness for some of our country’s most vulnerable people.