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Understanding HUD's LGBT Equal Access Rule

by Lisa Bailey, Intake and Test Coordinator
This summer, FHCO staff attended a training with shelter providers from across the state to learn strategies for implementing HUD's Equal Access Rule.

What is The Equal Access Rule?
The rule prohibits all HUD-funded housing, including shelters and other dwellings, from discriminating based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. The rule has been in effect since 2012 - Final Equal Access Rule

To whom does this apply?
The rule applies to all HUD-funded housing, shelter, and transitional housing providers.

Why the need for the rule?
The statistics for homelessness/houselessness among the LGBT community are alarming.  For example, according to National Center for Transgender Equality, “One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.” 

How does this HUD guidance protect consumers?
Housing and shelter providers cannot inquire about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. They cannot exclude one or more family members based on whether they are actually or perceived to be LGBT.  Decisions related to placement of individuals in single-sex shelters are to be made based on the individual’s reported gender identity. This is also true when determining the number of bedrooms necessary for a household. Housing and shelter providers also have the responsibility to address resident-on-resident harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Is this the only LGBT protection in Oregon?

No.  Keep in mind that additional protections exist under state law for LGBT residents. These protections cover all dwellings, regardless of funding. There is a narrow exception for bonafide religous institutions.   Oregon Revised Statute chapter 659A
HUD's FAQs on Criminal History Policy Coming Soon
Last April HUD issued a ruling that housing providers must consider applicants' criminal histories on a case-by-case basis. Blanket policies, such as "no arrest records" or "no criminal history of any sort," can be a pretext for unequal treatment of individuals based on race, national origin, or other protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act. The ruling gives three factors with which a screening policy would be analyzed for a claim of intentional discrimination. Landlords are required to use an individualized assessment considering type of crime, the length of time elapsed, and mitigating circumstances. Official Guidance (PDF)

FHCO will post HUD's FAQs offering additional guidance for housing providers on our website and social media as soon as it is released.
Come Say Hello to FHCO at NAYA and AAAH's Housing Fairs!
Join us on October 8th at NAYA, 5135 NE Columbia Blvd., or on October 29th in the Legacy Emanuel Hospital Atrium, 501 N. Graham St., both in Portland. We will have a table and be able to answer fair housing questions. The fairs are free and open to the public. 
EPA Closing Oregon's Lead Paint Rule Loophole for Unlicensed Painters
The EPA is pushing Oregon to broaden the current rules to include property managers and unlicensed DIYers to test and notify with signs if lead hazards are present on a property. Please take a look (or listen) to this story from OPB for more information. “As many as 50 percent of all poisoning cases result from some kind of renovation activities in homes,” according to Perry Cabot, lead specialist in Multnomah County’s Public Health Department, to quote the story.

If you do painting or repair work on pre-1978 buildings, you may carry toxic lead dust on your clothes and shoes, which is potentially hazardous to children. You might also poison your residents’ children if you’re doing work on a rental property that you own or manage. 

Have a lead-related question? Please remember to call the Lead Line at 503-988-4000
FHCO Welcomes Two New Team Members!
Soojin Hwang is our new Program Assistant and Financial Administrator. She was born in Seoul, South Korea, spent her early years in New Jersey, but considers Oregon her home. She attended Portland State University and pursued a degree in Community Development at the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning as well as Graphic Design. 

Before joining FHCO, Soojin worked at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) where she was able to advocate for diverse community groups throughout the Portland Metro area.  With her background in community organizing and event management, along with a dash of determination and creativity, she hopes to support FHCO’s mission. 

When Soojin is not at the office, you can usually find her enjoying “TableTop” game nights with friends, challenging others on 90’s music trivia, and consuming the exciting food and scenery of the Pacific Northwest
Shyle Ruder has been with us since May as a Bilingual Education and Outreach Specialist. Prior to her work at FHCO, Shyle worked in HIV/AIDS Services for 15 years with 14 of those years focused on housing services for people living with HIV/AIDS. As part of that work, she has taught about Fair Housing rights since 2006.

Shyle served on the Renters Education Alliance Committee for seven years and helped develop the Rent Well tenant education series, an intensive 15 hour course designed to teach individuals their rights and responsibilities as renters. She is currently attending graduate school at PSU for a Master’s Degree in Postsecondary Adult Continuing Education.  
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