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Topics In the News
HUD Issues New Nondiscrimination Rule
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/31/12
Last updated on: 02/01/12
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HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

On January 30, 2012, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the final text of a rule prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in several of the agency's programs, including Title VIII-based public housing and Federal Housing Administration-backed loans.

Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the new rule on January 28 at the NGLTF's Creating Change conference in Baltimore. "Today, I am proud to announce a new equal access to housing rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose," he told the audience, which rose to its feet with applause.

The 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.

It also prohibits lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis for determining a borrower's eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing.

In addition, it clarifies that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, will have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. The new rule makes clear that otherwise eligible families may not be excluded because one or more members of the family are LGBT, are in an LGBT relationship, or are perceived to be such an individual or in such a relationship.

Finally, the rule 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. This provision, however, does not prohibit voluntary and anonymous reporting of sexual orientation or gender identity pursuant to state, local, or federal data collection requirements.

Secretary Donovan's announcement of the new rule was greeted with praise from officials of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Human Rights Campaign. These comments may be found in Chris Geidner's report on the announcement for MetroWeekly.

On January 31, in answer to a question from the Washington Blade John Trasviña, assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, confirmed that the rule would apply to religious institutions, saying, "All HUD housing providers are covered under this rule."

More precisely, religious institutions that receive funding or other aid from HUD must abide by the nondiscrimination rule. If they provide housing solely through their own funds, they are permitted to discriminate.

Secretary Donovan's speech at the Creating Change Conference may be found here: Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan.

The new rule, which goes into effect 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register, may be found here: HUD Final Rule.

In this video NGLTF Executive Secretary Rea Carey and Secretary of HUD Shaun Dononvan discuss housing discrimination.

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