Earlier this week I wrote about how, in many states, it is still legal to deny people housing for the simple reason that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Your response to the post, entitled “Housing Discrimination Because of ‘The Gay Thing,’” was one of deep concern.
In particular, many of you wanted to know how you could get involved in stopping this discrimination beyond signing petitions and lobbying your Senators and Representatives.
You offered suggestions for new posts that would be helpful to you in fighting this kind of prejudice, and these suggestions have all been noted (please feel free to get in touch with more suggestions, either in the comments section here or by contacting me privately).
While I busy myself gathering info and writing the posts that you have requested, I wanted to let you know about a recent news story that might, perhaps, be something you would like hear about.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) agency has launched a new initiative to study anti-gay housing discrimination throughout the U.S. with the hope that this federal study will enable legislators to see the pressing need for an amendment to the federal Fair Housing/ Civil Rights Act so as to include sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the list of protected classes.
From the Washington Post:
Starting Thursday, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department will enlist residents in three cities with large gay populations – Chicago, New York and San Francisco – to offer ideas on how such a study should be conducted.
Bias complaints and lawsuits nationwide make clear that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people face housing discrimination, from being turned down for apartments to being steered away from certain neighborhoods, but no one has tried to track how common such bias is. HUD hopes to begin collecting data next year.
“This really is groundbreaking,” said Raphael Bostic, HUD’s assistant secretary for policy development and research, who’s overseeing the study. “Nothing like this has ever been tried before at this scale and certainly not by a federal agency.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce has commented on the importance of this study:
“It finally will give us hard data to back up the heartbreaking stories of discrimination we’ve been hearing for years,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “This HUD study will show that there are a class of people … who have been repeatedly shut out of that portion of the American dream.”
If you live in the area and would like to attend, information for the San Francisco meeting can be found by clicking here. The meeting is currently scheduled for Monday, March 1. (*The New York meeting was scheduled to be today, Friday 26, however, due to the bad weather, this meeting has been rescheduled according to the HUD website. When I have a new date I’ll shall add it to this post.)
Perhaps more significant, the HUD will also be opening an online consultation over the next few weeks whereby you can mail them your stories of housing discrimination, some of which you shared on the previous post (thank you!). You will also be able to participate in seminars on how to develop the study, what the study should be looking for, and how to accurately determine viable discrimination claims.
While further information on this online program has not yet been issued, I would expect the HUD consultation to touch on work the agency announced back in October when it put forward the following policy changes:
- Clarify that the term “family” as used to describe eligible beneficiaries of our public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs include otherwise LGBT couples
- Require grantees and those who participate in HUD’s programs to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity and
- Specify that any FHA-insured mortgage loan must be based on the credit-worthiness of a borrower and not on unrelated factor or characteristics such a sexual orientation or gender identity.
While a long time in coming, the HUD’s proposed action on this issue, and housing discrimination as a whole, is a fundamental step. This is something that is also said to be backed by the Obama administration, with President Obama having said that tackling housing discrimination is an area of “priority.” Shaun Donovan from the HUD affirmed this in a recent statement:
“President Obama and I are determined that a qualified individual and family will not be denied housing choice on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
As more information on the study becomes available I’ll bring you updates on how you can get involved.
While waiting for that, you can keep up with the latest at the HUD by clicking here to go to their Facebook page. If you are on Twitter, you may also like to receive HUD updates by linking with them on the micro-blogging site. To do so, please click here.
- Which states/districts/principalities have home buyer protections for LGBTs?
- Renter’s Rights Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- The current situation on federal housing and sexual orientation discrimination.
- What existing laws/rights can help LGBT home buyers who face housing discrimination?