Posted by Kenneth J. Carroll on October 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM EDT
In a recent survey of 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming persons, 19 percent reported having been refused a house or an apartment because of gender identity, and 19 percent reported having been homeless because of gender identity. Findings of a 2007 Michigan study indicate that same sex couples face bias and discriminatory treatment based on sexual orientation when trying to access rental housing.
Recognizing these issues and utilizing its authority to promote decent housing and a suitable living environment for all, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken important steps over the past two years to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons have equal access to housing and HUD programs.
Through its notices of funding availability, HUD required recipients of approximately $3.5 billion in HUD funding to comply with state and local laws that prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity housing discrimination.
HUD recognized that, under the Fair Housing Act prohibition of sex discrimination, it has authority to pursue complaints from LGBT persons alleging housing discrimination because of non-conformity with gender stereotypes. HUD accepted and proceeded with enforcement efforts on 114 such complaints, about three times more than in the prior two years.
HUD launched a webpage that includes resources for LGBT victims of housing discrimination.
HUD initiated the first nationwide study of LGBT housing discrimination that will provide national data on the nature and extent of housing discrimination against same sex couples.
HUD published a rule that proposes regulatory changes to further ensure LGBT equal access, including clarification that a "family," which is the term used to define persons eligible for HUD-funded programs, includes persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. HUD anticipates publishing the final version of this rule by the end of the year.
To get the word out, HUD designed and implemented Live Free, a national media campaign to raise awareness about housing discrimination. Live Free includes digital videos, podcasts, Facebook postings, and print ads targeted to specific populations, including the LGBT community. To view the LGBT Live Free ads, click here.
More needs to be done to address LGBT housing discrimination in the United States. If you have ideas on what else HUD can do, send us an email at LGBTfairhousing@hud.gov .
Kenneth J. Carroll is Director of the Fair Housing Assistance Program Division at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.