Housing Discrimination against Gays, Lesbians, and Poor Still Legal in Most States

National Fair Housing Alliance Report Calls for Modernizing Fair Housing Act to Include Protection for LGBT People and Source of Income

By Melanie Nathan, April 13, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 7.29.43 AMWashington, DC – Today the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released “Modernizing the Fair Housing Act for the 21st Century,” its 2013 Fair Housing Trends Report.  This year’s report highlights the need to amend the federal Fair Housing Act to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, and marital status.

The report finds a rise in the number of housing discrimination complaints filed by individuals and families with a marked spike in harassment complaints.  Harassment complaints were up 35% from last year’s numbers and include complaints because of race, national origin, disability, sex, and having children in the home.  Included in the report are harassment and other complaints from Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Texas, and other states.

A total of 28,519 complaints were investigated in 2012 by private non-profit fair housing organizations, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice, and state and local government agencies such as state civil rights commissions.  HUD estimates that this already high number represents less than one percent of the approximately four million acts of housing discrimination each year against current populations protected by federal law.

KEY FINDINGS IN THE REPORT:

-Harassment complaints increased by 35%;
-Almost 30,000 housing discrimination complaints nationwide in 2012 (out an of estimated four million incidents each year);
-Private, nonprofit fair housing organizations investigated 69% of all complaints;
-Housing discrimination because of source of income is still legal in 37 states;
-Housing discrimination because of sexual orientation is still legal in 38 states, and because of gender identity in 44 states;

Spike in complaints by people not protected under federal fair housing law:
-source of income up 38%
-sexual orientation up 43%
-marital status up 63%
-gender identity and expression complaints reported for the first time.

“It’s high time to amend the Fair Housing Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity as well as source of income,” said Shanna L. Smith, NFHA’s President and CEO.  “The Fair Housing Act has been amended over the years to adapt to changing times.  It’s time for the federal government to catch up with the states doing the right thing and to protect all people from housing discrimination.”

Housing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is still legal in most states.  22 states and the District of Columbia protect against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation; 16 states and the District have protections for gender identity.

Landlords and other housing providers in 38 states can still discriminate against a family simply because of their source of income, even if they can afford the home.  Legal source of income can come from alimony, child support, government assistance from Veterans Affairs and HUD, and many other sources.  This discrimination hits low-income people the hardest; the worst hit are low-income women and families, people of color, and people with disabilities.

“If a family qualifies for an apartment and can pay for it, they should get it,” continued Smith. “It’s simple economics.  Today marks the 45th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act passed on April 11, 1968, one week to the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  Dr. King knew that poverty was the next frontier to fight when he began his Poor People’s Campaign at the end of his life.  Congress should honor the memory of Dr. King and modernize the Fair Housing Act for the 21st century.”

To read NFHA’s 2013 Trends Report and view graphics including U.S. maps with state law information, please go to www.nationalfairhousing.org.

Note:  All the more reason for a Full Equality Bill for LGBT People akin to The Civil Rights Act:- Nothing short of that, be it marriage equality or employment equality will spell true and full equality until the law of the U.S.A. fully outlaws discrimination against LGBT people on a State and Federal level.

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2 thoughts on “Housing Discrimination against Gays, Lesbians, and Poor Still Legal in Most States

  1. Discriminating against (perceived) LGBT people happens even in states like California where it is illegal. It’s expensive to hire an attorney to litigate against this discrimination and sometimes difficult to prove.

    For example, a gang of LGBT haters at the Mission Gardens Apartments, a Section 8 and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) property in Santa Cruz, California, stalk and abuse residents they perceive to be LGBT. This gang, under the protection of the management, will try to run (perceived) LGBT residents out of Mission Gardens and off the Section 8 program.

    These haters slur (perceived) LGBT residents with homophobic taunts. They vandalize their property with LGBT hate symbols. Worst, they employ stereotypes to slander (perceived) LGBT residents as a danger to resident children.

    HUD, even Secretary Shaun Donovan, is aware of this travesty at Mission Gardens. HUD seems to be ignoring this problem, hoping it will go away. But it won’t go away. The media is aware of it.

    1. Please contact me about this at nathan@privatecourts.com – I would like more information. I am Chair of the legal Committee and Fair Housing of Marin and would like to see what organizations have been involved, and if we could have jurisdiction in your area.

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