New HUD Regs Ban LGBT Discrimination in Assisted Housing

February 9, 2012
| Share | Print

HUD recently announced new regulations intended to ensure that HUD's core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The new regulations, published as a final rule in the Federal Register this week, will go into effect in 30 days.


The final rule requires owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, to make housing available without regard to the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied. HUD will 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.


The final rule also:


· Clarifies that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, will 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 rule clarifies that otherwise eligible families may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship;


· Prohibits owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing or housing insured by HUD from asking about an applicant or occupant's sexual orientation and gender identity for the purpose of determining eligibility or otherwise making housing available. In response to comments on the proposed rule, HUD has clarified this final rule to state that this provision doesn't prohibit voluntary and anonymous reporting of sexual orientation or gender identity pursuant to state, local, or federal data collection requirements; and


· Prohibits lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower's eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing.


"With this historic rule, the Administration is saying you cannot use taxpayer dollars to prevent Americans from choosing where they want live on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—ensuring that HUD's housing programs are open, not to some, not to most, but to all," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.


While the new rule applies only to HUD-assisted housing, the Fair Housing Act, which bans discrimination in rental, sales, and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status, applies to both public and private housing. Although the Fair Housing Act doesn't specifically ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, approximately 20 states, and the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities, towns, and counties across the nation have additional protections that specifically prohibit such discrimination against LGBT individuals.


You can view the final rule

here