The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website will allow citizens the opportunity to comment on the design of an unprecedented national study that will examine housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There have not been any studies that prove that the LGBT community is discriminated against in housing issues, there is some evidence that there may be a bias against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
HUD recently held town hall meetings in the cities of Chicago, San Francisco and New York. The meetings gathered feedback about how to approach the ground breaking research. The new HUD LGBT website allows the public to comment and make suggestions about the study while it is still in the planning stages.
Dr. Raphael Bostic, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, stated in a press release, 'It is critical that as we embark on this historic discrimination study, that we hear from those who may have been denied housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The comments we received in our town hall meetings, and those we will gather from this new website, will help inform how we might test for housing discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on LBGT status."
While there are no national assessments of LGBT housing discrimination, there are state and local studies that have shown this sort of bias. A Michigan study of 120 couples who presented themselves with as heterosexual married couples or same sex 'life partners' found that found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home (www.fhcmichigan.org/images/Arcus_web1.pdf).
HUD's new LGBT website is seeking suggestions form the public on how best to execute the study. For example, how would a ‘tester' signal in a conversation with a landlord that an individual or couple was LGBT? The website is not designed for users to lodge complaints about a particular incident. People who believe they have been a victim of any housing discrimination may file an online complaint, or call HUD's Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777.
Written by Christine Nyholm