HUD now investigating and enforcing LGBTQ housing discrimination under federal law

Written by on March 5, 2021

HUD now investigating and enforcing LGBTQ housing discrimination under federal law

By Ben Stemrich

March 5, 2021

Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013. Photo | J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

One of President Joe Biden’s day one orders helps prevent gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination, a move that has boosted housing protections for the LGBTQ community.

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But what does that mean for the Lehigh Valley?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development now has the power to investigate and enforce complaints of discrimination against LGTBQ people. It’s something it could not do during the past four years. 

“When the former president repealed the Obama era housing protections it was very disturbing. And we’re really glad this was a priority with Biden to reverse course,” says Adrian Shanker, founder and executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown.

HUD offers programs like Section 8, a housing choice vouchers program, and funds homeless shelters. But Shanker says he would like to see protections extended to people who live outside public housing. 

“Within those areas discrimination is very frequent. So this is a very important issue specially when we’re looking at discrimination in shelters, for example, that might be very conservatively run,” he says.

It’s a step forward, but the order needs to be expanded, he says.  

“[Because Biden’s order] is limited however to only programs that are through HUD. So we still need federal protections to get passed through Congress to pass housing protections to the private sector as well,” Shanker says. 

According to HUD officials, the move to include LGTBQ people makes the housing department the first agency to implement Biden’s order. 

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