(Washington, DC, February 20, 2015)—Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance clarifying that single-sex shelters receiving federal funds must respect the gender identity of all residents and provide access to sex-segregated shelters based on gender identity.

HUD’s announcement clarifies the agency’s position on an issue that has been left unresolved since the 2012 LGBTQ Equal Access Rule. This rule prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in all public housing programs and services administered or funded by HUD. This new guidance on the LGBTQ Equal Access Rule provides much-needed clarification with respect to grantees obligations on treatment of transgender shelter-seekers.

Statement from NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert:

“We applaud HUD for issuing this critical explanation. Discrimination against transgender shelter-seekers is one of the most significant and dangerous types of housing discrimination that the LGBTQ community faces. People attempt to access shelters at one of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. Forcing a transgender person to be housed by the wrong gender at a shelter is a terrible violation, and has resulted in many of them being denied access to emergency shelter. HUD clarifying that this constitutes discrimination will save the lives of many transgender people. We look forward to continuing to work with HUD to ensure that this guidance is fully integrated into the LGBTQ Equal Access Rule.”

Today’s announcement means that all shelters receiving any funds from HUD—which constitutes a significant percentage of shelters operating in the country—must allow transgender and gender non-conforming people access to the shelter that corresponds with their gender identity. This new guidance also discourages shelters from requesting any documentation as proof of a shelter-seeker’s asserted gender identity and urges grantees to provide cultural competency training for facility staff on best practices on working with the transgender community.