The Trainer — April 2015
Complying with HUD’s Equal Access Rule
In this month’s feature, we discussed a recent HUD rule relating to the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), which bans discrimination against applicants and residents on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. We explained how to comply with HUD’s Equal Access Rule by reviewing your site’s practices and policies to make sure they don’t unintentionally violate the rule, the FHA, or state and local fair housing laws by denying admission or program eligibility because of the applicant’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
Even though federal fair housing law does not specifically ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, a site could face a fair housing complaint if it treats applicants or residents differently because of their sexual orientation. True or false?
A site cannot be liable for housing discrimination based on sexual orientation unless the applicant or resident is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. True or false?
ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: a
Although the Fair Housing Act does not expressly include sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status as protected classes, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person’s experience with sexual orientation or gender identity housing discrimination may still be covered by the FHA’s prohibition on discrimination based on sex, according to HUD. Also, sites could be liable for treating applicants and residents differently based on sexual orientation under applicable state or local law.
Correct answer: b
HUD’s Equal Access Rule protects both actual and “perceived” gender-related characteristics. Therefore, you could be liable if you discourage a prospect from living at your site based on an assumption that he is gay, even if he’s really straight. In addition, state or local fair housing laws generally ban discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, so a site could be liable for discriminating against an applicant based on a mistaken belief about his or her sexual orientation.