BALTIMORE — Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan officially announced on Saturday his department will make final “next week” a proposed rule to protect LGBT people against discrimination in federal housing programs.“I am proud to announce a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose,” Donovan said. “This is an idea whose time has come.”
The secretary made the announcement during his speech at the 24th annual Creating Change conference at the Hilton Baltimore. He’s the first Cabinet secretary to speak at a Creating Change conference, which are hosted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
According to Donovan, after the rule is published in the Federal Register, it will go into effect following a 30-day waiting period.
The rule, first proposed in January, will cover programs serving an estimated 5.5 million Americans, including those living in low-income subsidized housing.
The measure clarifies “families” otherwise eligible for HUD programs can’t be excluded because one or more members of the family is LGBT, in a same-sex relationship, or is perceived to be such an individual or in such a relationship.
It also prohibits owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured by HUD from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant or occupant of a dwelling, whether renter or owner-occupied.
The measure also has a bearing on mortgage insurance programs. It prohibits lenders from using LGBT status as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage financing.