It’s not sexy, but it’s great news from NCTE:

(October 21, 2009, Washington, DC) The National Center for Transgender Equality praises the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its announcement today that it will ensure that its programs are available to all, including LGBT people. Today’s announcement is historic, since HUD is the first federal agency so far to officially propose guidelines that would explicitly address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The evidence is clear that some are denied the opportunity to make housing choices in our nation based on who they are and that must end,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “President Obama and I are determined that a qualified individual and family will not be denied housing choice based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The proposals announced today include:
• Requiring that all who participate in HUD’s programs comply with all existing local and state non-discrimination ordinances;
• Specifying that Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgage loans are given based on the credit-worthiness of the applicants, and not on other factors, such as sexual orientation and gender identity;
• Clarifying that in the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher program, the use of the term “family” includes all eligible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, couples and families; subsidized housing would be made available to all who need it, without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Also vitally important is today’s announcement by HUD that they are commissioning a national study of the discrimination that LGBT people face in housing, the first of its kind. To date there have been no federal studies to evaluate the extent of the problem.

However, a recent study of 6,500 transgender people by NCTE and the Task Force showed just how fragile housing is for so many transgender people and why these new actions by the Obama Administration is so urgently needed. Among the findings:
• Only 32% of our sample reported home ownership, compared to 68% of the general population;
• 19% report being denied an apartment or home because they are transgender;
• 19% have become homeless at some point in their lives.
NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling commented, “Housing is a basic right and a basic human need and these numbers show just how blatant the discrimination is that transgender people face every single day. Today’s actions by HUD will make a difference in a tremendous number of lives. We are so pleased that the Obama administration continues to express through both action and words that it is committed to making sure that all federal government programs are accessible to all people.”

NCTE looks forward to working with the Obama Administration as these proposals move forward to ensure that everyone has access to housing.