HUD Publishes Final Faith-Based Rule Revisions, Replacing Discriminatory Trump-Era Policies

HUD published a final rule in the Federal Register on March 4 reinstating religious freedom protections for people who use HUD-funded services. The revised rule replaces Trump administration policies that removed such protections (see Memo, 2/18/20, 4/20/20, 12/22/20). The final rule also includes similar provisions for eight other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The HUD final rule reinstates the requirement that people seeking services be informed of their religious freedom rights, which prohibit discrimination due to a person’s religion or because a person is nonreligious; bar requirements to pray or participate in religious activities; and permit the filing of a complaint if a person’s religious freedom rights are violated.

The final rule eliminates Trump-era provisions designed to allow social service providers, such as homelessness assistance providers, to refuse to enroll participants into federally funded programs or provide key services offered by federally funded programs based on the religious policies and practices of providers.

The rules for HUD are at 24 CFR part 5.109. The final rule at §5.109(g)(2) reinstates the requirement that providers receiving HUD assistance give prospective beneficiaries a written nondiscrimination notice before a person enrolls in a federally funded program or receives services from a program. Appendix C of the rule contains specific language required for a notice:

  1. A provider cannot discriminate against a beneficiary “on the basis of religion, religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or a refusal to attend or participate in a religious practice…”
  2. A provider may not require attendance or participation in any explicitly religious activities.
  3. A provider must ensure HUD-supported activities and any privately funded explicitly religious activities are separated in time or location.
  4. A person may report an entity’s violation of the religious protections, including a denial of services or benefits, by contacting HUD’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at [email protected].
  5. A person can seek information about whether there are any alternative federally funded organizations that provide the needed services in their area by contacting the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The reinstitution of the notice requirement will likely have a wide range of positive consequences. For example, a transgender homeless teen who has fears about receiving services at a shelter affiliated with a religion that condemns LGBTQ+ people might be put at greater ease knowing that religion cannot be infused into the services or that they will be able to refuse to attend religious programming. Likewise, upon reading the notice, the same teen might learn that they may seek alternative sources of the same service from another provider with no religious affiliation. 

Read the final rule containing the HUD provisions as well as related provisions for other federal agencies at:

Find an easier-to-read version of the final rule at: (The HUD-specific provisions start on page 139.)