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HUD announces new regs to end public housing discrimination against gay families; UPDATED – news from HHS also | Hunter of Justice

HUD announces new regs to end public housing discrimination against gay families; UPDATED – news from HHS also

by on October 21, 2009  •  In Uncategorized

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it will promulgate proposed regulations (presumably soon) to end discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in its housing programs, including by specifying that gay partners fall within the agency's definition of "family" for purposes of eligibility for public housing.

The proposed reg will:

  • clarify that the term "family" as used to describe eligible beneficiaries of HUD public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs include otherwise eligible lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals and couples. The Department's intent to propose new regulations will clarify family status to ensure its subsidized housing programs are available to all families, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • require grantees and those who participate in the Department's programs to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  • specify that any FHA-insured mortgage loan must be based on the credit-worthiness of a borrower and not on unrelated factors or characteristics such as sexual orientation or gender identity.

Like all proposed regs, this one will be published in the Federal Register and subject to public comment and possible revision before its final adoption. According to HUD, three million families participate in the public housing and voucher programs.

In addition, HUD will commission the first-ever national study of discrimination against LGBT persons in the rental and sale of housing.

This is exactly the kind of progressive regulatory step that the Administration should be taking. My hope is that, now that most departments have at least most of their political appointees in place, we will see similar moves from across the Executive Branch. Recall that the memorandum signed by the President in June gave departments 90 days to report back to OPM on ways to eliminate discrimination against gay or trans federal employees.  Well, those 90 days were up about a month ago.  So, also on the employment front, I hope that we start seeing additional reforms from many of the federal agencies.

UPDATE: HHS also had an announcement today: it will fund the creation of a national resource center on the problems of lgbt elders that will provide information and assistance to community service programs serving the elderly.

Excerpts from the HUD and HHS press releases after the jump –>

From HUD:

…"The evidence is clear that some are denied the opportunity to make housing choices in our nation based on who they are and that must end," said Donovan. "President Obama and I are determined that a qualified individual and family will not be denied housing choice based on sexual orientation or gender identity."…

HUD expects to begin the regulatory process immediately. The LGBT discrimination study is similarly fast tracked. HUD undertook important research in 1977, 1989 and 2000 to study the impact of housing discrimination on the basis of race and color. 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's study will examine housing discrimination based on Sexual orientation or gender identity.

While there are no national assessments of LGBT housing discrimination, there are state and local studies that have shown this sort of bias. For example, 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. Please visit online.

From HHS:

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced plans to establish the nation’s first national resource center to assist communities across the country in their efforts to provide services and supports for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. 

Experts estimate that as many as 1.5 to 4 million LGBT individuals are age 60 and older.   Agencies that provide services to older individuals may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the needs of this group of individuals. The new Resource Center for LGBT Elders will provide information, assistance and resources for both LGBT organizations and mainstream aging services providers at the state and community level to assist them in the development and provision of culturally sensitive supports and services. The LGBT Center will also be available to educate the LGBT community about the importance of planning ahead for future long term care needs.

The LGBT Resource Center will help community-based organizations understand the unique needs and concerns of older LGBT individuals and assist them in implementing programs for local service providers, including providing help to LGBT caregivers who are providing care for an older partner with health or other challenges. 

The Administration on Aging will award a single Resource Center grant at approximately $250,000 per year, pending availability of funds.  Eligible entities will include public-private nonprofit organizations with experience working on LGBT issues on a national level. The funding announcement for the Resource Center will be made available on the following website very soon.   http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Grants/Funding/index.aspx

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One Response to HUD announces new regs to end public housing discrimination against gay families; UPDATED – news from HHS also

  1. Mark Zamen October 23, 2009 at 9:36 PM

    HUD is to be commended, for this is a step in the right direction. It is not, in and of itself, a panacea but the message it sends is clear, morally correct, and necessary: It is a sad fact that even in this day and age, a large segment of society still regards gay men and women (among various minorities) as second-class citizens. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). More information is available at link to eloquentbooks.com or authorautobahn.webs.com/bookpeek.htm.

    Mark Zamen, author
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