HUD Launching National Study of LGBT Housing Discrimination
HUD is launching a national study on discrimination in the sale or rental of housing against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community. Sexual orientation and gender identity is not currently protected under federal fair housing law, but HUD is exploring a rule to broaden the definition of “family” to recognize LGBT families.
HUD recently hosted town hall meetings in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City to solicit feedback from leaders of the LGBT and nonprofit communities on how to approach the research. It also has launched an online suggestion box to give the public an opportunity to comment on the study.
“It is critical that as we embark on this historic discrimination study, we hear from those who may have been denied housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Dr. Raphael Bostic, HUD's assistant secretary for Policy Development and Research. “The comments we received in our town hall meetings, and those we will gather from this new Web site, will help inform how we might test for housing discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on LBGT status.”
While there are no national assessments of LGBT housing discrimination, there are state and local studies that have shown this sort of bias. For example, Michigan's Fair Housing Centers found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home.
HUD is planning to use “testers” to search for discriminatory practices. Here's how it works: Two trained testers are sent separately to a site to apply for a rental unit. The testers have identical profiles and follow the same script—yet one is a member of the LGBT community and one is not. Researchers then compare notes on how each tester was treated. HUD's new LGBT Web site will seek suggestions on how best to execute the study. For example, how would a tester signal in a conversation with a site owner or manager that an individual or couple was LGBT?
The LGBT Discrimination Study suggestion box can be accessed at http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/LGBT_Discrimination_Study/comments.