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Fair housing for all

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, is working on a rule that would offer lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, collectively LGBT, a little more protection from housing discrimination.

The agency is finalizing a federal rule that would ensure its own housing and programs are open to everyone, regardless of marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation, according to a HUD statement.

The federal Fair Housing Act bans discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and family-with-children status. The act, dating back to 1968 and enforced by HUD, doesn't specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, though in some cases it may stretch to cover aspects of such situations.

Laws in 20 states and more than 200 localities go further to prohibit housing discrimination against LGBT people, according to HUD.

Federal legislation would be necessary to add these folks specifically to the list of protected classes.

Meanwhile, HUD has launched a campaign to educate the public about fair housing and strive to ensure that people have equal access to housing, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The year-long campaign will utilize newspaper and magazine ads, and new media such as digital videos, podcasts and ads on social networking websites to spread the message.

Housing discrimination is a real crime with real victims. Examples of discrimination cases reported to HUD have included:

  • A disabled woman who couldn’t get a home loan because the bank wouldn’t allow her son, acting with her power of attorney, to complete the paperwork.
  • A bank that failed to provide services in African-American neighborhoods.
  • A family that wasn't allowed to see an apartment due to the children.
  • A woman who was discriminated against and insulted by her landlord because she's married to a Hispanic man.

To voice a housing discrimination complaint, call (800) 669-9777 or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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