Wednesday, February 1, 2012
On Saturday, January 28th, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan made history when he unveiled HUD's LGBT Equal Access policy—a new rule that will protect more than 5.5 million people across the country from discrimination in public housing and Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgages.
The new rule will improve the lives of LGBT people and families across the country—and marks the first time that any administration has extended such broad protections against housing and mortgage discrimination to the LGBT community.
The rule will be published this week and go into effect 30 days later. It will prohibit all owners and operators of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing from discriminating against an applicant or occupant of a residence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing account for a large segment of all of housing opportunities. The rule also prohibits all lenders offering FHA-insured mortgages from considering sexual orientation or gender identity in determining a borrower’s eligibility. FHA-insured mortgages represent a very large share—between 40% and 50% of the mortgage market.
The rule also clarifies the definition of “family” to ensure that otherwise eligible participants in any HUD programs will not be excluded based on marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. These programs, including crucial public housing programs like Section 8, will now be accessible to all LGBT individuals and families.