HUD to hear from LGBT community at City Hall

Posted Feb. 22, 2010 at 3:47 p.m.

By Mary Ellen Podmolik | The federal government is looking to Chicago to help it determine
whether the nation’s housing policy needs to be changed to safeguard the
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will conduct a
town hall meeting at City Hall Thursday as it begins a national study
on housing discrimination that’s conducted every 10 years. In what it
calls a “ground-breaking” move, the agency also will study rental and
for-sale housing discrimination in the LGBT community.

“It’s really the first time the federal government has tried to do something like this,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “Rather than presume what the issues are, we thought it’d be good to actually hear from the community.”

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability. Federal fair housing laws do not cover sexual orientation.

“What’s driving this is a belief that all of these social goods or amenities should be widely available,” Bostic said. “We are at the very early stages of this but this administration is very interested and is taking a position that evidence-based policy is how we want to proceed. If we hear the same thing again and again, that would suggest it’s something we need to think about.”

In October, HUD announced a series of proposals to promote inclusion of the LGBT community in its programs. One would clarify the term “family” in its public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs to include otherwise eligible lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals and couples . At the time, it also announced plans for the LGBT housing discrimination study.

The town hall meeting will be conducted at Chicago’s City Hall from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday. It will be followed by similar events in New York City and San Francisco.

The public events will be followed by field studies. The Obama administration hopes to obtain some preliminary study results at the beginning of next year.

Courtney Reid, director of social services for the Center on Halsted, said a federal policy banning LGBT housing discrimination would carry more weight than various municipal and state regulations.

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One comment:

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