The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new rules and regulations to protect the housing rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals at the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality.
Shaun Donovan, the secretary of HUD, called the new rules “historic.”
“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 sexual orientation or gender identity – ensuring that HUD’s housing programs are open, not to some, not to most, but to all,” Donovan said.
Though HUD has been proactive in investigating housing discrimination by race and color, (it has conducted nationwide surveys of such discrimination in 1977, 1989, 2000 and now in 2012), its focus on LGBT issues is more recent, as it explained.
It is believed that LGBT individuals and families may remain silent because in many local jurisdictions, they may have little or no legal recourse,” HUD stated.”State and local studies have shown evidence of this sort of bias. For example, a 2007 report by Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home.”
The new regulations, which are set to be published as final in the Federal Register next week, will go into effect 30 days after they are published.
The full ruling, which can be read here, makes numerous provisions for LGBT individuals. For instance, owners and operated of housing that is HUD-assisted or insured must make housing available regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity for an applicant or occupant; in addition, lenders can no longer use gender identity or sexual orientation in determining a borrowers eligibility for Federal Housing Administration financing, a new measure that prohibits lenders from using “irrelevant criteria” when judging a borrowers credit-worthiness.
The new rules also broaden the scope of the term “family,” incorporating all eligible family members regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“HUD’s rule clarifies that otherwise eligible families 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,” stated HUD.
And finally, owners and operators of HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing are not allowed to ask an applicant or occupant about their sexual orientation or gender identity for purposes of determining their eligibility, though voluntary and anonymous reporting of such information for state, local or federal data collection requirements is still allowed.