HUD Adds LGBT Protections to Its Grant Programs
Developers or housing authorities applying for HUD grant funds now have to make sure that they are complying with state and local antidiscrimination laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals if they wish to receive those funds. HUD has just published a notice detailing the general requirements that will apply to all of its competitively awarded grant programs for fiscal year 2010.
According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, HUD is “using every avenue to shut the door against discrimination…by insisting that those who seek federal funding demonstrate they are meeting local and state civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In the past, HUD has required that any applicants seeking grant funds must comply with all applicable federal fair housing and civil rights requirements of the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This requirement includes not discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
Now HUD is further stipulating that applicants and their subrecipients comply with state or local laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender. Currently, approximately 20 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting discrimination because of sexual orientation. And 12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
Donovan said that HUD's General Section will not consider an applicant's submission if it fails to meet minimum thresholds, which includes being able to demonstrate that it has not been charged with a systematic violation of state or local law proscribing discrimination in housing based on gender identity.
This latest announcement follows on the heels of a series of measures outlined by Donovan last October that would ensure that the Department's core housing programs are open to all. In addition to this recent notice, HUD intends to propose new regulations that would expand the definition of the term “family” to ensure HUD's core assisted housing programs are available to eligible LGBT individuals and couples. In addition, HUD will commission the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. The Department is currently seeking online public comment from interested parties in how the study might be conducted.