Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

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The #LiveProud campaign is a public education campaign by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) aimed at educating the public about the housing vulnerabilities of the LGBT community; increasing awareness of the important housing policy changes that have been enacted during the Obama administration; and connecting the LGBT community to federal policymakers, community members, state and local advocates, housing providers, and HUD grantees to best ensure that all people and families have access to safe, fair and affordable housing.

LGBT people and families face significant housing discrimination and higher instances of homelessness and housing insecurity than the general population. According to one study, a majority of low-income LGBT people have been or are currently homeless, finding that 70% have been homeless in the past and 58% are currently homeless.  Without explicit federal protections guarding against this discrimination, LGBT people must rely on a patchwork of state and local protections, which are insufficient to adequately protect against this discrimination. As a result, LGBT people are at a much higher risk for adverse housing outcomes, including discrimination, harassment, and eviction based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The #LiveProud campaign will highlight how HUD has been incredibly successful using existing authority to increase access to fair housing for LGBT people, for several years now, including:

  • In July 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would interpret the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex to include discrimination based on gender identity and sex stereotyping, and thus, the Fair Housing Act could recognize gender identity discrimination most often faced by transgender persons as gender discrimination.  This announcement opened the door to enforcement actions under the Fair Housing Act against discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people based on gender identity and expression.
  • In 2012, HUD announced its LGBT Equal Access Rule. This first-of-its-kind rule prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in public housing programs and services. This rule ensures that crucial public housing programs and services like Section 8 and FHA-insured mortgages, will now be accessible to all LGBT individuals and families.
  • And in 2013, HUD conducted a first-ever study examining housing discrimination against same-sex couples at the national level. This study found that same-sex couples were significantly less likely than heterosexual couples to get favorable responses to e-mail inquiries about electronically advertised rental housing.

Despite these crucial efforts, many LGBT community members and many impacted housing providers remain unaware of their new rights and obligations. The goal of #LiveProud will be to increase public awareness so that these policy changes will be effective in increasing access to fair housing in the LGBT community.

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