Housing Discrimination Realities

LGBT people are more likely to be denied housing

John Trasvina (courtesy of HUD)

Mitch and Michelle are like any couple. They want to live together with their children. But after facing several set backs, Mitch took up residence in public housing. Because he’s transgender, he’s not able to add Michelle to his voucher. Their relationship didn’t exactly fit into the public housing authority’s definition of “family.”

They are not alone.

A recent study suggests that transgender individuals are much more likely to face housing discrimination. As many as 19 percent of almost 6,500 people surveyed admitted they have been refused a home or apartment, while 11 percent have been evicted because of their gender identity, according to John Trasvina, assistant secretary for the U.S. Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

For 19 percent of people, this discrimination leads to homelessness – and a greater risk for sexual assault. Many even face problems attempting to access homeless shelters. Sadly, almost half of homeless youth on the streets of our country identify as LGBT.

“HUD (U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development) now is undertaking an unprecedented, national study to determine the level of housing discrimination faced by various sectors of the LGBT population,” says Trasvina in a recent statement. Along with HUD officials, he has been meeting with members of the LGBT community in cities across the country.

“We know that 20 states and over 200 cities, towns and counties already have laws prohibiting housing discrimination against LGBT people,” he says. The Obama administration has also recommended that Congress expand the federal Fair Housing Act protections to include LGBT discrimination. “Some LGBT individuals and families hide their identities in order to secure the apartment or house they want,” says Trasvina. “That is not a price that anyone should pay in the United States of America.”

How do these new initiatives benefit people like Mitch and Michelle? “Their family was successfully granted housing with the assistance of two HID fair housing partners,” says Trasvino, who admits there’s much more work to be done..