Sunday, January 29, 2012

Housing Discrimination Against LGBT Families Gets Federal Attention

One of the problems that the LGBT community has been facing for years is if they should be included in the definition of family. Common sense would say yes, but apparently many landlords and housing authorities lack common sense.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD for short, oversees the nation’s many housing authorities and provides affordable housing through Section 8, public housing, and subsidies paid to landlords if they agree to offer reduced rents to qualifying applicants, which include low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly. Unfortunately, many landlords and housing authorities involved in the programs chose to deny families that would otherwise be qualified on the grounds that one or more of their members were or perceived to be LGBT. HUD failed to clarify this in their definition of family, so landlords were allowed to this without fear of repercussions.

To fix this loophole, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan will prevent discrimination against LGBT families by landlords and prohibit lenders from denying LGBT families HUD-insured mortgage financing.

According to this article, Donovan provided an example of discrimination when Michelle DeShane wanted to add his partner Mitch DeShane, a transgender man, to his Section 8 voucher, but were denied because they didn’t meet their local housing authority’s definition of family.

Of course, this is only a first step, but Donovan has stated that his department will undertake further steps to ensure training and education happen to implement the measure. He thanks LGBT groups for providing feedback for the new rule. Hopefully, other federal departments will follow suit.

David Tejeda (Secretary)

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