Speaking today at the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Baltimore, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan introduced a broad and sweeping set of new nondiscrimination protections the department will be implementing. Under the new guidelines, any program that receives funding or insurance through HUD will be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, including Section 8 housing, emergency shelters, and other social services, as well as lending for FHA-insured mortgage financing. In addition, all such programs will now be required to recognize same-sex and otherwise LGBT families — regardless of their marital status or the adoption status of their children — to ensure they can stay together as a family unit when accessing HUD resources.
In his remarks, Donovan explained the significance of these changes:
DONOVAN: And so, first and foremost, this rule includes a new equal access provision that prohibits owners and operators of HUD-funded housing, or housing whose financing we insure, from inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or denying housing on that basis. If you are denying HUD housing to people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—actual or perceived—you’re discriminating, you’re breaking the law – and you will be held accountable. That’s what equal access means – and that’s what this rule is going to do.
Secondly, this rule makes clear that LGBT families, like the DeShanes, are eligible for HUD’s public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs that collectively serve 5.5 million people. Third, the rule also makes clear that sexual orientation and gender identity should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting a mortgage insured by the FHA – part of HUD.
I’m proud to announce that this rule will be published as final in the Federal Register next week and go into effect 30 days later.
In addition to HUD’s new regulations, the White House announced Friday that it will hold a series of public forums across the country designed to “ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans.” It is likely that these conferences will help serve as a vehicle for educating local service providers and community leaders about how to implement various new protections.