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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 41
HUD pledges more help to end anti-LGBT discrimination in housing
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HUD pledges more help to end anti-LGBT discrimination in housing

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In an October 13 posting on the White House blog, a high official in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pledged his agency to combat anti-LGBT discrimination in housing.

Kenneth J. Carroll, director of the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP), cited an NGLTF study released earlier this year to demonstrate the dimensions of the problem faced by LGBT, and especially gender-nonconforming people, in securing fair housing.

'In a recent survey of 6,450 Transgender and gender non-conforming persons,' Carroll said, '19% reported having been refused a house or an apartment because of gender identity, and 19% reported having been homeless because of gender identity.'

'Findings of a 2007 Michigan study indicate that same-sex couples face bias and discriminatory treatment based on sexual orientation when trying to access rental housing,' Carroll added.

Carroll went on to explain six ongoing HUD projects to address anti-LGBT discrimination in housing.

First, HUD leveraged some $3.5 billion in federal funding to make owners of housing units comply with state and local laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Where state and local laws do not apply, HUD ruled that the federal Fair Housing Act prohibition against sex discrimination gives it authority to investigate complaints from LGBT persons alleging housing discrimination because of non-conformity with gender stereotypes.

According to Carroll, HUD accepted and proceeded with enforcement efforts on 114 such complaints in 2010, about three times more than in the prior two years.

HUD made additional rules changes to ensure equal LGBT access, including clarification that a 'family,' which is the term used to define persons eligible for HUD-funded programs, includes persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

Carroll said that HUD expects to publish the final version of this rule by the end of 2011.

HUD has launched a webpage that includes resources for LGBT victims of housing discrimination.

HUD also initiated the first nationwide study of LGBT housing discrimination that will provide national data on the nature and extent of housing discrimination against same-sex couples.

To reach out to communities that typically face housing discrimination, HUD designed and implemented 'Live Free,' a national media campaign to raise awareness about housing discrimination.

The program includes digital videos, podcasts, Facebook postings, and print ads targeted to specific populations, including the LGBT community.

According to HUD data, housing discrimination complaints from LGBT individuals has increased significantly after the Live Free program was introduced.

From July 1, 2010, to February 28, 2011, HUD said, LGBT individuals filed 47 complaints of housing discrimination alleging gender discrimination with HUD. During the same period prior to Live Free, HUD received only three such complaints

'More needs to be done to address LGBT housing discrimination in the United States,' Carroll concluded. 'If you have ideas on what else HUD can do, send us an email at LGBTfairhousing@hud.gov.'

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