Yesterday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it will enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD issued this directive to begin implementation of the provisions of President Biden’s Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity of Sexual Orientation signed on the day he was inaugurated.
Under the new directive, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity will accept claims and investigate all complaints of discrimination because of gender identity or sexual orientation that were filed since January 20, 2020. Additionally, state and local Agencies funded by HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) that enforce the Fair Housing Act through their HUD-certified substantially equivalent laws will be required to administer those laws to prohibit discrimination because of gender identity and sexual orientation, and those that receive funds from HUD’s Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) must carry out funded activities to fight discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Any housing that is covered by the Fair Housing Act, including shelters, will be covered by the new directive. Also, individuals will be able to file claims based on a combination of protected classes (e.g. race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin) which will allow Agencies to pursue all forms of discrimination that are alleged in a complaint. Individuals will be able to file complaints for discrimination that occurred within 1 year of filing their claim.
This is a critical step forward to protect LGBTQ individuals and families against discrimination in housing and will protect LGBTQ communities with the full-force of Federal enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. But it is only a first step toward ensuring that all LGBTQ individuals are free from harmful discrimination in rental housing, home purchases, and shelters.
We must continue to fight for full legislative recognition under the law that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing is illegal. We cannot risk the roll-back of progress by future administrations with anti-LGBTQ agendas.
The Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research looks forward to working to ensure that all LGBTQ people are protected under an enduring right to be free from discrimination and harassment in their housing now and in the future.