The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced new proposed rules to ensure that HUD programs are available to all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The full proposed rule is available here. Comments are due by March 25, 2011.
In citing their reasoning for the proposed rules, HUD describes the evidence gathered by the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan’s Arcus Project report, Sexual Orientation and Housing Discrimination in Michigan. That report was a joint project of the four Fair Housing Centers in Michigan, which are located in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Detroit and Ann Arbor.
The proposed rule includes this information in the Federal Register, “There is evidence suggesting that LGBT individuals and families do not have equal access to housing. For example, a 2007 study of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation conducted by Michigan fair housing centers found disparate treatment in 32 out of 120 fair housing tests it conducted. Testers posing as gay or lesbian home seekers received unfavorable treatment on issues such as whether housing was available, the amount of rent, application fees, and levels of encouragement as compared to testers posing as heterosexual home seekers. The gay and lesbian testers also were subjected to offensive comments.”
According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan,”This is a fundamental issue of fairness. We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
According to Pam Kisch, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan, “Currently we are able to pursue some complaints about gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination based on statutes that prohibit discrimination based on sex or marital status, but this is a huge step forward.”
The Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan investigates complaints of illegal housing discrimination based on race, disability, family status, marital status, religion, national origin, color, and sex. Individuals concerned about housing discrimination can reach the Fair Housing Center at (734) 994-3426 or at http://www.fhcmichigan.org.