HUD Withdraws Proposed Rule, Strengthens Equal Access Protections

Regulation | April 22, 2021 | by Juliana Bilowich

LeadingAge joined HUD call on strengthened LGBT+ housing and shelter protections.

On April 22, HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge announced that HUD is withdrawing the previous administration’s proposed rule that would have allowed shelter programs and operator to deny transgender individuals accommodations.

Specifically, the proposed rule would have allowed HUD Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD)-funded shelters and other facilities to create policies excluding transgender and gender non-conforming people from being placed in single-sex facilities that aligned with those persons’ gender identities. The rule would also have allowed the shelter operators to make determinations about a person’s gender based on physical characteristics for the purposes of shelter admittance.

“Access to safe, stable housing-and shelter-is a basic necessity,” said Secretary Fudge. “Unfortunately, transgender and gender non-conforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cis-gender people. Today, we are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity. HUD is open for business for all.” HUD has submitted its action withdrawing that rule to the Federal Register, which is expected to publish it next week.

Along with the proposed rule withdrawal announcement, HUD is releasing technical assistance resources. These resources will support HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development grantees in implementing the Equal Access Rule, which ensures that people have equal access to HUD CPD programs, shelter, and services, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Equal Access technical assistance materials for shelter operators are available here and here.

During an agency call with stakeholders, HUD leadership stated that “shelters play a critical role in safety [for LGBT+ individuals]” and said that shelter programs and housing communities have “a long way to go” in providing safe and affirming environments. The proposed rule withdrawal builds on a strong Fair Housing emphasis by new HUD Secretary Fudge, including an announcement in February regarding expanded Fair Housing protections for LGBT+ people.

During the call with HUD leadership, LeadingAge asked the agency how it planned to implement and enforce protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In response, HUD staff stated that they are conducting in house trainings with HUD staff and Fair Housing partners to enforce the expanded protections. HUD staff also stated that they are taking legal steps to amend agreements with their Fair Housing partners to include new interpretation of protections.