Housing Department introduces new LGBT protections

On Saturday, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a new HUD policy to fight discrimination against LGBT people in federally supported housing programs.

Under the new guidelines, any program that receives funding or insurance through HUD will be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes Section 8 housing, emergency shelters, and other social services, as well as mortgage lending through the Federal Housing Administration. Importantly, all of these programs will now be required to recognize same-sex and otherwise LGBT families — regardless of their marital status or the adoption status of their children — to ensure they can stay together as a family unit when accessing HUD resources. Donovan stated:

And so, first and foremost, this rule includes a new equal access provision that prohibits owners and operators of HUD-funded housing, or housing whose financing we insure, from inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or denying housing on that basis. If you are denying HUD housing to people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—actual or perceived—you’re discriminating, you’re breaking the law – and you will be held accountable. That’s what equal access means – and that’s what this rule is going to do.

Secondly, this rule makes clear that LGBT families, like the DeShanes, are eligible for HUD’s public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs that collectively serve 5.5 million people. Third, the rule also makes clear that sexual orientation and gender identity should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting a mortgage insured by the FHA – part of HUD.

I’m proud to announce that this rule will be published as final in the Federal Register next week and go into effect 30 days later.

Watch his remarks here:

Many folks might argue that marriage equality or the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell are the harbingers of progress from queer people and families. I think it’s this kind of policy change that truly demonstrates equity. It’s in the connection between economic justice and sexual orientation/gender identity in which families are created and destroyed. This connection creates a stark contrast to the idea that queer families are “just like us” so they should be able to have access to the benefits of heterosexuality and military citizenship. It is through this kind of visibility and validation, of alternate family family structures, that we can queer the movement for economic justice.

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