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February 01, 2012

New HUD regulation bars housing discrimination against lgbt persons and families

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued its final rule prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in HUD-assisted or -financed housing. The rule also bans inquiries as to these characteristics, and specifically defines "family" to include lgbt families. The regulation will be published in the Federal Register next week, and go into effect 30 days after the date of publication. 

HUD's summary of its provisions:

  • Requires owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, to make housing available without regard to the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied.  HUD will institute this policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, which include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, community development programs, and public and assisted housing programs. 
  • Prohibits lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing.  FHA’s current regulations provide that a mortgage lender’s determination of the adequacy of a borrower’s income “shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to” specified prohibited grounds.  The rule will add actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the prohibited grounds to ensure FHA-approved lenders do not deny or otherwise alter the terms of mortgages on the basis of irrelevant criteria. 
  • Clarifies that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, will have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. In the majority of HUD’s rental and homeownership programs the term “family” already has a broad scope, and includes a single person and families with or without children.  HUD’s rule clarifies that otherwise eligible families may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be an LGBT individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship. 
  • Prohibits owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing or housing insured by HUD from asking about an applicant or occupant’s sexual orientation and gender identity for the purpose of determining eligibility or otherwise making housing available. In response to comments on the proposed rule, HUD has clarified this final rule to state that this provision does not prohibit voluntary and anonymous reporting of sexual orientation or gender identity pursuant to state, local, or federal data collection requirements. 

 

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