This week the White House responded to recent reports that a disproportionate number of LGBT people continue to experience discrimination while searching for permanent housing and other residency. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published a release yesterday that detailed the government's plans to eliminate this discrimination and enact policies that assure proper investigation of anti-LGBT discrimination cases.
HUD said they have pursued 114 complaints of anti-LGBT discrimination in the first two year's of the Obama administration. That's three times more than in the previous two years, before Obama took office.
Much of the anti-LGBT housing discrimination has been targeted at the trans community. The discrimination, in part, contributes to many trans persons' experiences with homelessness.
The HUD release cited the results of a recent survey (PDF) from the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, which found that 19 percent of transgender people had been refused a house or an apartment because of their gender identity.
The Advocate elaborated further on the results of the NGLTF and NCTE survey:
The story line imagined by the survey responses is bleak. Although 1.7% said they were currently homeless, 19% said they'd been homeless at some point in their lives. And trans homeless people were four times more likely to perform sex for money, 2.5 times more likely to end up in jail, and more likely to become HIV-positive. They were also more likely to attempt suicide.
It's not easy getting off the streets. Of trans people who said they'd tried to get into homeless shelters, 29% reported being turned away, while 42% were forced to room with people of the wrong gender.
In the end 40% found someplace cheap to live, while 25% lived with family or friends. Unfortunately, 12% weren't as lucky and reported having sex with people just to sleep in their beds.
HUD is now taking further steps to lessen the impact of anti-trans housing discrimination. Foremost among these steps is changing the language of the Fair Housing Act to explicitly prohibit landlords from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, although HUD has the authority to pursue complaints of anti-LGBT discrimination, that behavior is not technically prohibited by the federal policy. HUD explained more in its release:
HUD published a rule that proposes regulatory changes to further ensure LGBT equal access, including clarification that a "family," which is the term used to define persons eligible for HUD-funded programs, includes persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. HUD anticipates publishing the final version of this rule by the end of the year.
Changes like these, which help to break down barriers to acceptance of LGBT people, are necessary if we're going to achieve any sense of full LGBT equality.