Guidance from HUD for LGBTQ Individuals Using Shelters

Guidance from the Great Funding gods in Washington on how shelters need to serve Transgender individuals using HUD funded facilities.  These are extremely helpful, but when is Cuyahoga County going to display these rules so that everyone including residents of the shelter understand these rules?  We have been pushing to get these rules displayed and Cuyahoga County officials have been unwilling to require posting the LGBTQ rules in the shelters. 

A Message from Harriet Tregoning,

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development

I am pleased to inform you that we have reached an important milestone in HUD efforts to ensure equal access for all persons in our programs. On September 21, 2016, HUD will publish a final rule in the Federal Register entitled Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs.

This rule will ensure that all individuals have equal access to many of the Department’s core shelter programs in accordance with their gender identity. This rule becomes effective October 21, 2016.

I encourage all CPD grantees to promptly review their policies to ensure consistency with the new rule.

Following what had previously been encouraged practice by HUD, providers using funds awarded through the Department’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD), including those operating single sex projects, are now 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 without being subjected to intrusive questioning or being asked to provide documentation.

HUD’s new rule will require a 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.

Other provisions and changes to the rule include:

  • Eliminates the prohibition on inquiries related to sexual orientation or gender identity so service providers can ensure compliance with this rule.  The removal of the prohibition on inquiries related to sexual orientation or gender identity does not alter the requirement to make housing assisted by HUD and housing insured by the Federal Housing Administration available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  • Amends HUD’s definition of “gender identity” to more clearly reflect the difference between actual and perceived gender identity.
  • Makes a technical amendment to the definition of “sexual orientation,” which was adopted from the Office of Personal Management’s (OPM) definition of the term in 2012 to conform to OPM’s current definition.
  • NOTE: the definition of “family” remains the same. See FAQ 1529 for specific guidance for projects with CoC and ESG funding.

As a new program regulation, failure to comply with the requirements of this rule will be considered a violation of program requirements and will subject the non-compliant grantee to all sanctions and penalties available for program requirement violations. HUD has provided a suite of Technical Assistance materials to support final rule implementation, which can be found at https://www.hudexchange.info/homelessness-assistance/resources-for-lgbt-homelessness/.  

HUD has also provided a document that grantees can publicly post to inform clients and staff of the equal access requirements, which can be found at https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5147/notice-on-equal-access-rights/.

HUD is planning to conduct trainings and provide additional TA materials to assist HUD grantees in understanding the new rule and implementing the policies and procedures appropriately. As these resources become available, you will be able to access them on the LGBT Homelessness Resource Page.

Find more information on HUD’s broader work for LGBTQ inclusion in HUD’s programs at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/LGBT_resources. Please direct any questions regarding this rule and any requests for technical assistance to your local CPD representative.

Brian Davis

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Equality Issues within the Homeless Community

Kansas City privately funded shelter discriminates against same sex couples.  This is unfortunate and every shelter in the United States is going to have to figure out a solution to these issues. 

We congratulate the City of Cleveland for clarifying the law and housing discrimination statutes to include gender identity issues.  We still need a state law to protect all tenants because only half of the rental housing in our community is within the Cleveland border.  Here is the information on the employment and housing equality bill that passed Council last night from an EqualityOhio press release

We have excellent news to share. Last night, Cleveland City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 1445-13, adding "gender identity or expression" to several places where it was missing in Cleveland's nondiscrimination code. 

Thank you for showing your support at both the Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon and last night in Council Chambers! We stood together in support of increased protections for our transgender community.

Our future success depends on our willingness to continue to stand together. Ordinance 1446-13 would remove discriminatory language allowing business proprietors to dictate which restrooms are appropriate for transgender people. However, it has not yet been scheduled for a vote. We are committed to getting Cleveland City Council to vote yes. 

We'll continue important public dialogue on transgender public accommodations. Look for more information in the coming days about other actions you can take to ensure the entire LGBT community is protected by Cleveland's code.

Together, let's celebrate the passage of Ordinance 1445-13 and commit to passing 1446-13 as soon as possible. 

Cleveland does a pretty good job in serving transgender individuals seeking shelter.  They respect the HUD policy of serving people in the gender specific shelter in which they present.  This only came about since 2012 when HUD clarified the rules.  We also can provide private facilities if the individual faces discrimination or harassment in the shelter.  This is one of the benefits of having a coordinated intake site locally.  There are individual problems, but we are light years in front of other communities. 

Brian Davis

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Rights of the LGBT Community and Homelessness

The last Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting this week featured Kris Keniray of the Housing Research and Advocacy Center gave a presentation on a change in the fair housing law being implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In 2012, HUD published the rule which regulates all programs funded by federal housing dollars provides for equal access to housing regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity (contained in the Federal Register Feb. 3, 2012 Vol. 77 No. 23).  The new rules went into effect on March 5, 2012, and governs Public Housing, the Voucher program, Block Grant funding, HOME dollars, FHA mortgages, and even Emergency Shelter grants. 

The Housing Authority is changing their annual plan and attempting to incorporate these regulations into their local rules.  The big change is going to have to take place in the shelters.  There is a YouTube video dealing with this new rule on the HUDChannel [search for HUD LGBT Rule Webinar (updated) 3/5/12].   Shelters have not effectively dealt with the transgendered for years.  In Cleveland, those who present as male and the larger number of genetically male who present as female have lived at our largest men's shelter for years.  In 2012, the Community Women's Shelter changed their policy to meet the new guidelines, but I have not seen the other shelters make changes.  Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s there were not as many presenting at the shelters who were transgendered and the community could afford motel vouchers to keep the individuals safe and not force them onto the streets.   Some of the deeply religious programs are not going to like this new policy, but that is the cost of taking public money.  How will the shelters that are in churches at night going to like when a Mom and Mom with her kids show up in need of shelter? Is the Salvation Army (which is a religion) going to be okay with a Dad who presents as a woman at the shelter?

The rule is pretty clear, but the fundamentalist religious organizations that receive public money are going to be very skeptical about this new policy.  They are going to have to offer help to individuals who they condemn their "lifestyle" based on their own interpretation of their religious texts.  The new policy requires:

  1. Equal access by all HUD funded programs or mortgages secured by the Federal Housing Administration.  These programs must be made available to households without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
  2. Family or household include persons regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. 
  3. There is a prohibition on owners or operators of HUD funded programs or housing insured by FHA from asking about an applicants or occupants sexual orientation or gender identity for the purpose of determining eligibility or otherwise making housing available. 
  4. Prohibition on FHA lender from taking into account actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in determining the adequacy of a potential borrowers income.

The issue will come about when people experience discrimination, but have no where to go to complain.  The household must complain to the local HUD office or HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777.  Locally, NEOCH or the Housing Center at 28th and Euclid can help.  For many finding a way to complain will be a big hurdle.  We thank Kris for bringing this issue to the broader community.  This is a social justice issue to protect access to publicly funded facilities no matter your race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. 

Brian Davis

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