The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week went public with a proposed rule to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity under its assistance programs, a change that could impact over 4.4 million housing units throughout the United States.
The proposed changes are designed to impact HUD’s core assistance programs and, in the absence of federal legislation, would mean that the HUD would have a greater influence in reducing discrimination related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
*Prohibiting lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing. FHA’s current regulations provide that a mortgage lender’s determination of the adequacy of a borrower’s income “shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to” specified prohibited grounds. The proposed rule would add actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the prohibited grounds to ensure FHA-approved lenders do not deny or otherwise alter the terms of mortgages on the basis of irrelevant criteria.
*Clarifying that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. In the majority of HUD’s rental and homeownership programs the term “family” already has a broad scope, and includes a single person and families with or without children. HUD’s proposed rule clarifies that families, otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be an LGBT individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship.
*Prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied. HUD is proposing to institute this policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, which include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, community development programs, and public and assisted housing programs.
As noted above, there exists no express federal LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination law. However, around 20 states have enacted anti-discrimination protections themselves, while nearly 150 cities have enacted similar ordinances.
Currently, the HUD is busy analyzing data from a national study designed to assess the problem of anti-LGBT housing discrimination. No national picture exists at this time, however smaller surveys suggest that the problem is widespread, with a 2007 report by Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers finding that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples faced discriminatory treatment when attempting to buy or rent a home.
This issue can be of particular concern for trans housing applicants and also LGBT elders who often have little resources to fall back on. The study is scheduled for release in 2012.
Read more: civil rights, fair housing act, gay rights, gender identity discrimination, housing discrimination, housing non discrimination, hud, lgbt rights, nondiscrimination, sexual orientation discrimination
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