GOOD TO KNOW: NOTES FROM THE FIELD
A feature of the TDA blog where we address topics and questions we’re hearing in the field…
It’s not often that my work at TDA intersects with celebrity pop culture (which I generally view as a good thing). However, Vanity Fair’s recent introduction of Caitlyn Jenner (the Olympic gold medalist then-known as Bruce Jenner and member of the Kardashian household we’re apparently trying to keep up with) has brought significant attention to and discussion of gender identity.
How does this relate to TDA’s affordable housing practice? More than you might think. LGBTQ households often face significant discrimination when seeking housing, whether as buyers or renters. In one test conducted by Michigan fair housing centers, over a quarter of testers posing a gay or lesbian home seekers were subjected to unfavorable treatment. Combined with statistics showing that LGBTQ individuals—even after controlling for factors such as education, age, and race—are more likely to live in poverty, it comes as no surprise that LGBTQ individuals and families have higher rates of housing instability. For example, a study in California found that one in five survey respondents reported experiencing homelessness since identifying as transgendered. And other statistics also show that as many as 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.
While most affordable housing practitioners know that federal fair housing statutes do not provide explicit protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, many do not realize that HUD regulations finalized in 2012 are intended to guarantee Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.
The final rule, which took effect March 5, 2012, broadly affects HUD’s programs, including formula grants like HOME, CDBG, ESG, and HOPWA. Its most important provision amends 24 CFR Part 5, Subpart A by adding §5.105(a)(2) which:
Requires that HUD-assisted housing be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status; and
Prohibits administrators of HUD-assisted housing programs and owners/managers of HUD-assisted housing or from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of any applicant or occupant.
The rule also makes a variety of conforming changes to define gender identity and sexual orientation in §5.100, update various definitions of “family” in §5.403, and make other similar changes to several program-specific regulations.
While this rule is now three years old, many HUD grantees have not yet updated their local policies, procedures, and program documents—including their written agreements with subrecipients, developers, and property owners—to ensure that these protections for LGBTQ are fully and properly implemented.
Given the attention being paid to Caitlyn Jenner and the increased public attention her story has brought to issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, now is the perfect time to make sure that your local program is compliant with these HUD requirements.
In addition to its work directly for HUD, TDA regularly provides training and technical assistance to state and local recipients of HUD funding. Contact Henry Alvarez, firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services, including reviews of program guidelines and written agreements to ensure that local programs have incorporated the latest HUD guidance—including the Equal Access rule.