The federal government announced today that it has tripled the number of cases it acts on from LGBT people who say they've been discriminated against while trying to obtain some kind of housing, whether it be a new apartment or even a bed at a homeless shelter.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development responded to 114 complaints during the first two years of President Obama's term, according to Kenneth Carroll, director of HUD's Fair Housing Assistance Program Division.
Carroll noted an especially heavy burden on transgender people, mentioning a disturbing survey this year from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force performed in cooperation with the National Center for Transgender Equality. It found that of the more than 6,000 trans people surveyed, 19% had been denied a home or apartment. And 11% said they'd been evicted merely for being transgender.
The story line imagined by the survey responses is bleak. Although 1.7% said they were currently homeless, 19% said they'd been homeless at some point in their lives. And trans homeless people were four times more likely to perform sex for money, 2.5 times more likely to end up in jail, and more likely to become HIV-positive. They were also more likely to attempt suicide.
It's not easy getting off the streets. Of trans people who said they'd tried to get into homeless shelters, 29% reported being turned away, while 42% were forced to room with people of the wrong gender.
In the end 40% found someplace cheap to live, while 25% lived with family or friends. Unfortunately, 12% weren't as lucky and reported having sex with people just to sleep in their beds.
Only 32% of trans people actually own a home, compared to 67% of the rest of the population.
HUD noted in its announcement today a list of things being done to help combat the problem:
- It requires anyone receiving money from HUD to comply with antidiscrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
- A new Web page was launched as a resource for LGBT people looking to file a complaint.
- A national study is in the works that will produce new data on the prevalence of discrimination against LGBT people.
- It has proposed a rule that defines "family" -- a term used widely in government programs -- to be more inclusive of iterations found in the LGBT population.
- A new ad campaign raises awareness about discrimination against LGBT people in housing.