The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a new final rule that promises important protections for all Americans seeking housing, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a press release on the HUD official site, the new final rule is known as, “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity“.
The press release says the final rule affects everything from FHA mortgage loan programs to housing services and benefits.
“Following what had previously been a practice encouraged by HUD, providers that operate single-sex projects using funds awarded through the Departments Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) will now be required to provide all individuals, including transgender individuals and other individuals who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, with access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity”.
That requirement includes the right to be served by these programs, “without being subjected to intrusive questioning or being asked to provide documentation”, according to HUDNo.16-137, issued this week.
Today, we take another important step to ensure full acceptance of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the programs HUD supports, said HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who is quoted in the press release.
Castro adds, This new rule will ensure equal access to the very programs that help to prevent homelessness for persons who are routinely forced to choose between being placed in facilities against their gender identity or living on our streets.
The new final rule requires a HUD/FHA program “recipient, subrecipient, or provider to establish, amend, or maintain program admissions, occupancy, and operating policies and procedures (including policies and procedures to protect individuals’ privacy and security), so that equal access is provided to individuals based on their gender identity. This requirement includes tenant selection and admission preferences.”
Furthermore, and specific to the FHA home loan program, the final rule, “…prohibits lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrowers eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing”.
Under current FHA loan rules, “a mortgage lenders determination of the adequacy of a borrowers income ‘shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to ‘specified prohibited grounds’ “. The new HUD final rule adds “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”.
We’ll explore more specific details of the new final rule and how it protects potential FHA loan applicants in a future blog post.