WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Housing and Urban Development will begin enforcing a ban on housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The move is a major reversal of the position under the Trump administration’s housing secretary, Ben Carson.
“Every person should be able to secure a roof over their head free from discrimination, and the action we are taking today will move us closer to that goal,” said Jeanine M. Worden, acting assistant secretary of Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, in a statement.
The policy change announced Thursday acts off an interpretation of the Fair Housing Act and the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
President Joe Biden also signed an executive order on his first day in office ordering every government agency to review its programs and policies to “address overlapping forms of discrimination” including sexual orientation and gender identity.
All state and local jurisdictions funded by HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program will be required to review their own programs with an eye on identifying discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Organizations and agencies that receive grants from the program must do the same.
The department will also review all complaints of such housing discrimination dating to Jan. 20, 2020, one year before Biden’s executive order.
The statement says the agency “has been constrained in its efforts to address housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by legal uncertainty about whether most such discrimination was within HUD’s reach.”
The new policy would also kill a Carson-era proposal that would have allowed homeless shelters to deny entry to transgender people. That policy was proposed and promoted, but never finalized.