Today the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that could block transgender people from accessing emergency shelter and housing safely. The rule seeks to greenlight discrimination by faith-based organizations and undermine protections for marginalized people, including a 2016 HUD rule that clarified transgender people are protected from discrimination in emergency shelters and housing programs.
“No one should be turned away from emergency shelters or housing because of who they are,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “With this proposal, Trump is once again encouraging illegal discrimination against transgender people and attacking our ability to survive and thrive. No matter what the administration says, shelters and housing programs should continue to follow the law.”
When shelters deny transgender and gender nonconforming people emergency housing altogether or force them into housing inconsistent with their gender identity, they are placed at great risk of living on the streets or being funneled into facilities where they experience abuse, harassment, and sexual assault. Should this rule be implemented, when faith-based organizations deny housing to people, they will not be required to provide a referral to another shelter. By eliminating the requirement for a referral, it would place the burden to find help entirely on someone already in a vulnerable situation.
In recognition of the violence that transgender people can face if they are placed in housing inconsistent with their gender identity, in 2016 and 2018 the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence released a consensus statement signed by over 300 domestic violence and sexual violence organizations across the country.
Transgender people, and particularly trans people of color, face high rates of housing discrimination, along with other forms of discrimination that contribute to homelessness. In a 2015 survey of more than 25,000 TGNC people, almost 30% of transgender people reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives. The same survey found of those who stayed in a shelter in the past year, 70% of transgender people reported some form of mistreatment because of being transgender.
Transgender Law Center encourages housing providers to use our Model Policy and Legal Guide for Homeless Shelters and Housing Programs, available here: https://transgenderlawcenter.org/archives/12555.