Tuesday, February 24, 2015

HUD issues Guidance on Home Lending and Transgender Access to Homeless Shelter

Here's the press release:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance to better serve LGBT Americans seeking to obtain a home loan and transgender individuals seeking access to homeless shelters. These two sets of guidance will help clarify the Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Rule (Equal Access Rule), which was published in 2012. The Equal Access Rule ensures that housing across HUD programs is open to all eligible individuals regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

HUD’s guidance on program eligibility for HUD assisted and insured housing programs includes an equal access provision making clear that housing that is financed or insured by HUD must be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. It also prohibits owners and operators of HUD-funded housing, or housing whose financing was insured by HUD, from inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or denying housing on that basis. In addition, the guidance also makes clear that sexual orientation and gender identity should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting an FHA-insured mortgage.

“It’s an injustice that any transgender person is mistreated when seeking help,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “We issued this guidance so that shelter providers treat these Americans with the dignity they deserve. This measure is an important step in shaping a future where every person is accepted, respected and housed.”

HUD also issued guidance on how to best serve transgender persons in single-sex shelter facilities. The guidance will help address the fact that almost 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, and the majority of them report harassment, difficulty, or even sexual assault when trying to access homeless shelters. This guidance states that a transgender client’s or potential client’s own views with respect to personal health and safety deserve serious consideration when placing the person in a single sex shelter. “Not only does the guidance address appropriate placement of transgender individuals in single sex facilities, but it also guides providers on how best to address privacy and safety concerns within the facilities in ways that do not segregate or isolate transgender individuals.

The creation and implementation of the Equal Access Rule builds on HUD’s and President Obama’s commitment to expanding opportunity, advancing equality, and leveling the playing field for LGBT individuals and families. Since 2010, HUD has taken steps to strengthen LGBT protections, such as adopting the principle that gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, adopting the requirement that applicants for competitive HUD funds must be in compliance with state and local LGBT nondiscrimination laws, releasing a groundbreaking study on LGBT housing discrimination, and pursuing complaints under the Equal Access Rule.

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