By Michelle Zenarosa
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implemented a rule that makes it illegal in the federal agency’s core programs to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT people living under or looking for affordable housing, or who are looking to receive government-backed mortgages, are ensured equal opportunity under this rule.
The final regulation includes protection for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, stating that the actual perceived identity or orientation cannot be taken into consideration when determining eligibility or making housing available.
The rule was years in the making according to Ken Carroll, director of the Fair Housing Assistance Program Division. He said it had been brought to HUD’s attention in 2007 after the Fair Housing Centers in Michigan released the results of a study revealing a high discrimination rate against same-sex couples.
The Fair Housing Centers compared the treatment of individuals posing as same-sex couples and those posing as heterosexual married couples when visiting various housing providers. For the study, same-sex couples were provided with better credentials, higher income, larger down payment capabilities, and better credit. However, more than one in four cases resulted in evidence of discrimination.
A second study conducted by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality confirmed a need to include protections for the transgender and gender non-conforming community. These studies, released last year, surveyed over 6,000 transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States.
Nineteen percent of respondents reported having been refused a home or apartment because they were transgender or gender non-conforming. Almost two percent were homeless at the time.
29 states still lack any regulations legally protecting LGBT persons from being evicted or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. 35 states do not provide protection to transgender persons.