On April 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) withdrew a proposed rule that would have weakened the 2016 “Equal Access” protections for transgender individuals in shelters and other HUD-funded housing. In withdrawing the 2020 rule, HUD noted that it was inconsistent with Executive Order 13985, titled ‘‘Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,’’ and Executive Order 13988 titled ‘‘Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.’’
In 2016, HUD had issued its Equal Access Rule to ensure that all individuals – regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status – had equal access to HUD-funded and HUD-insured housing and related programs.
Under the 2016 Equal Access Rule, grantees must ensure shelter access be provided to a person in accordance with that person’s gender identity, and in a manner that affords equal access to the person’s family. Specifically, the 2016 Equal Access Rule provides that individuals will not be discriminated against based on actual or perceived gender identity when consideration of sex is prohibited or not relevant. In situations where legitimate consideration of sex or gender is appropriate, such as shelters that serve only one sex or have sex-segregated facilities, the individual’s own self-identified gender identity will govern.
Equal access to HUD programs that serve people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is essential in addressing the challenges faced by transgender and gender non-conforming persons. National research have identified numerous instances where transgender and gender non-conforming individuals were placed in shelters that did not correspond to their gender identity as well as harassment and assaults in shelters based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
With this announcement, HUD also released technical assistance resources for HUD grantees to support them in implementing the Equal Access Rule. Equal Access technical assistance materials for shelter operators are available here and here.
More from this Newsletter Issue: Spring 2021
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