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HUD publishes final rule on equal access

Fair HousingOn February 3, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in the Federal Register—a landmark final rule that will effectively guarantee additional protections to applicants and occupants of HUD-funded programs. The rule requires that HUD-assisted housing be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

While the final rule does prohibit administrators of HUD-assisted housing, and owners participating in multifamily programs from inquiring about sexual orientation or gender identity for the purposes of making eligibility determinations or otherwise making housing available, it does not prohibit any lawful inquiries of an applicant or occupant’s sex in other cases, such as determining the number of bedrooms to which a household may be entitled, among others. We should note, however, that this rule only applies to recipients of HUD dollars, and therefore does not include owners or landlords participating in the HCV program.

As one might expect from such changes, the rule also modifies the existing regulatory definition of family, adding language that takes the new protections into account. Likewise, the definitions of disabled family, elderly family, and near-elderly family have been modified to include cohead as well. The rule goes into effect on March 5, 2012.

Nan McKay and Associates provides fair housing training and products to assist your agency with HUD compliance. To stay updated on the latest program information, subscribe to the PIH Alert and Housing Resource Newsletter.