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Inclusion

HUD Extends Fair Housing Protections to LBGTQ+ Americans

By Tanya Svoboda
May 2021

America is one step closer to making sure every person can secure housing without discrimination. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on February 11th that it will extend protections to LGBTQ+ Americans under the Fair Housing Act.

“Housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity demands urgent enforcement action,” noted Jeanine M. Worden, acting assistant secretary at HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in a Spectrum News article. “That is why HUD, under the Biden Administration, will fully enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The Fair Housing Act was created in 1968 to ensure people of color were not discriminated against during real estate transactions. Those transactions include renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage,  and receiving housing assistance, among other housing-related activities. Over the years the Act has extended protections to characteristics beyond race which include:

  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

Until this most recent extension, there was often no legal recourse for individuals facing housing-based discrimination related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

HUD’s Extension Addresses a Significant Need

In spite of the fact that some states had laws in place to prevent housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation before President Biden’s Executive Order, discrimination continued to occur and it affected the homeownership rates and confidence of the LBGTQ+ community. By adding this protection to the Fair Housing Act, LBGTQ+ homebuyers across the country are guaranteed the protection they need and deserve.

A study commissioned by Freddie Mac in 2018 revealed a troubling reality: It showed that only 49% of LBGTQ+ households were likely to own a home, which was well below the national average at the time of 64.3%. The study also showed that LGBTQ+ homebuyers prioritize safety and friendliness when shopping for a home, but 46% of LGBTQ+ homebuyers feared discrimination in the homebuying process.

Just last year in 2020, a spokesman for HUD told National Public Radio (NPR) the department had received 197 claims of discrimination involving sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County served as the legal basis for HUD’s memorandum, according to NPR. President Biden’s order interpreted the ruling, in that case, to mean LGBTQ+ people should receive protections in housing as well as health care and education.

In his January 20th Executive Order, President Biden said, “People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

If you feel you’ve been discriminated against you can file a complaint with HUD. The department will review all complaints related to gender identity and sexual orientation-related discrimination submitted since January 20th, 2020 – the date of Biden’s inauguration.

By adding this protection to the Fair Housing Act, LBGTQ+ homebuyers across the country are guaranteed the protection they need and deserve.


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