Opposing HUD’s Attempts to Roll-Back Discrimination Protections for Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Individuals
On September 22, Funders Together to End Homelessness submitted a public comment to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) voicing our opposition to its proposed changes to the Equal Access Rule that would allow shelters to discriminate against LGBTQ+, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming individuals.
On July 23, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development officially proposed a rule that would rewrite the Equal Access Rule as it stand and erase protections for LGBTQ people facing becoming unhoused or in need of any HUD-funded services. This proposed rule change would remove critical equal access protections that ensure equal access for everyone in need of HUD-funded services and programs, but particularly targets transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary individuals. HUD exists to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination,” however the proposed rule would open the door to taxpayer-funded discrimination against the people in our communities who are at the greatest risk of violence and inequities. The Equal Access Rule’s protections against discrimination are critical to ensure safe access to shelter for transgender, non-binary, or gender nonconforming people experiencing homelessness, survivors of violence, and people fleeing disasters.
Currently, homeless shelters are expressly directed to accept transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people, but the proposed changes would instead allow shelters to reject members of these communities simply because of who they are. This proposed roll-back would allow widespread discrimination towards transgender, gender nonconforming, and non-binary people when they are facing becoming unhoused, or fleeing from disaster. The current regulations provide safety in HUD-funded programs, and this proposed rule change would only leave transgender and non-binary people less safe and more at risk, especially during a global health crisis.
Funders Together created a joint statement alongside our advocacy partners denouncing the rule, which you can read here.
How Philanthropy Can Take Action
This proposed rule comment period opened Friday, July 24, and will run through September 22, which is the deadline to submit comments on this proposed rule change. HUD is legally required to write a response to each unique comment before they can implement a Final Rule, meaning that the more comments they receive, the longer it will take them to put this dangerous and discriminatory rule into effect.
Funders Together is working closely with our partners on a campaign to generate as many public comments in opposition of the rule as possible in order to slow down the process in which this proposed rule could become approved. Philanthropy can take action and join in with other leaders to oppose this proposed rule and protect LGBTQ and trans people from shelter and housing discrimination by:
submitting a public comment. Funders can prepare unique comments and submit them through the Housing Saves Lives comment portal. Funders Together is available to help you strategize and craft comments. Funders should also encourage their grantee partners to submit unique comments.
reviewing our funder call on the Equal Access Rule. Funders Together partnered with Funders for LGBTQ Issues for a call on the Equal Access Rule, how to take action, and other ways funders can support and protect the LGBTQ and trans communities. You can view the recording here.
signing up for updates on the Housing Saves Lives website to receive emails about updates to the campaign and additional resources to help you speak up against this proposed rule.
- utilizing the Housing Saves Lives partner toolkit to get the word out to your network about the proposed rule and its potential impacts.
Remember: Submitting comments to proposed regulatory changes is NOT considered lobbying. Private foundations can provide comments in response to this proposed rule, and public charities, like community foundations, can do so without tracking and reporting it as lobbying on their 990s.
National Alliance to End Homelessness Webinar: A Conversation About the Equal Access Rule and Why It Matters
Wednesday, September 16 | 2pm ET, 11am PT
Center for American Progress: The Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Transgender People Facing Homelessness
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: HUD’s Proposed Rule Would Allow Discrimination Against Transgender People
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Changes to HUD’s Equal Access Rule Could Exclude More Transgender People From Shelter
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Transgender Homeless Adults & Unsheltered Homelessness: What the Data Tell Us
True Colors United: Help Stop Trump’s Anti-Trans Rule
In September 2019, word of possible federal intervention on homelessness in California by the Administration circulated in the news. Then, on Monday, September 16th, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers released a troubling "State of Homelessness in America" report, which outlined actions the Administration may take as part of this intervention.
January 2017-Present: President Trump leads an administration focused on policy changes that create and perpetuate homelessness, to include requesting massive funding cuts to anti-poverty programs, eliminating the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, adding work requirements to Medicaid and food stamps, and expanding penalties for immigrants who use social benefit programs (just to name a few).
July 2019: In an interview with Tucker Carlson, President Trump commented on the homelessness crisis, expressing extreme concern (particularly at the visibility of homelessness). He largely blames liberals and sanctuary cities for the homelessness “phenomena that started two years ago.”
Mid-September 2019: White House officials toured public housing and encampments in California and news broke that the Trump administration was considering action on homelessness. Advocates are very concerned that impending action would further criminalize homelessness.
Late September 2019: The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report: The State of Homelessness in America. The report misrepresents evidence and asserts that homelessness is caused by overregulation of housing markets, the “tolerability” and availability of shelters, and “individual characteristics” like mental illness and poverty.
November 2019: The Administration requested Matthew Doherty to stepped down as Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). During this, speculation started to circulate of an upcoming Executive Order from the Administration pointed towards using some sort of federal intervention to address homelessness targeted at California but having impact nationally.
December 2019: The Administration hired Robert Marbut as the new Executive Director of USICH. Marbut had a long history of convincing local governments that the solution to homelessness lies in large-scale shelters rather than in housing-based approaches causing concern for many in the homelessness sector.
Early January 2020: A letter from HUD Sec. Ben Carson to Los Angele Mayor Eric Garcetti circulated, confirming fears of the Administration’s attempt to strike a deal with the city to address the homelessness crisis. In it, it ties certain policy changes such as “empowering and utilizing law enforcement” and use of “federal land” for shelters to the federal funding the Administration would provide.
Mid-January 2020: Sources reveal that the Administration is backing away from an Executive Order in pursuit of targeting cities with a large unsheltered homelessness population and attempting to reach a “strings attached” deal with each in efforts to claim a political “win” in those communities and states.
February 2020: President Trump releases his proposed FY21 budget which include cuts to HUD by $8.6 billion or 15% below 2020 enacted levels. The proposal would eliminate vital housing programs, including the national Housing Trust Fund and all funding for public housing capital repairs. It would also eliminate the HOME Investments Partnership program and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), significantly decreasing much needed resources for affordable housing, community development, and solutions to homelessness.
March 2020: On March 4, 2020, Secretary Ben Carson testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) of the Committee on Appropriations In his testimony, he admitted he is actively trying to find ways around language built into FY20 budget that requires HUD to adhere to the FY18 NOFA. This caused the THUD Appropriations Committee to pay special attention to language that could allow for criminalization of homelessness in budget bills that go beyond FY20.
Funders Together to End Homelessness is working with our Board of Directors, national partners, and close advisers around the philanthropic response and possible long-term strategies.We are also working to provide resources, talking points, media opportunities, member and partners statements, and other related content for funders which will be compiled on this resource page. We encourage you to check back often or reach out to Funders Together if you would like assistance in crafting messaging for a statement of your own.
If your organization has a resource or statement you would like listed here, please contact Lauren Bennett.
Funders Together Resources
California Health Care Foundation: White House Puts National Spotlight on California Homelessness
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland: “Housing is the Answer” – SOCF Statement on White House Homelessness Report
United Way of Greater Los Angeles: President Trump's Visit to LA
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Statement from the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Response to the White House Council of Economic Advisers’ Report on Homelessness
National Alliance to End Homelessness: White House Council of Economic Advisers' State of Homelessness in America Talking Points
National Health Care for the Homeless Council: An Open Letter to President Trump from National Homeless Advocates
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty:White House Policy Paper on Homelessness Misrepresents Evidence, Drives Wrong Conclusions
National Low Income Housing Coalition: Statement from NLIHC President & CEO Diane Yentel on The Council of Economic Advisers’ Report on Homelessness in America
National Low Income Housing Coalition: The Case for Housing First
National Low Income Housing Coalition: The Primary Causes and Solutions to Homelessness
Urban Institute: The Homelessness Blame Game
Advocacy represents an important element of philanthropy, leveraging our voices to effect change. As part of ongoing effort to provide support and programming on advocacy, we've compiled resources that can aid you in starting and continuing the conversation around this topic in your work to prevent and end homelessness. We will be updating this page with timely resources as they become available, so be sure to check back often!
Federal Intervention on Homelessness Resources
In September 2019, word of possible federal intervention on homelessness in California by the Administration circulated in the news. Then, on Monday, September 16th, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers released a troubling "State of Homelessness in America" report, which outlined actions the Administration may take as part of this intervention. This page provides a timeline of events, responses to the events, and resources for funders.
Funders Together Policy Priorities
We believe philanthropy has a voice in addressing homelessness and advancing solutions to prevent and end it with Congress and the Presidential administration. As Funders Together to End Homelessness prepares to work with the administration, together with our national partners we are focused on continuing to make preventing and ending homelessness a bi-partisan priority.
How Would Terminating USICH Affect Efforts to End Homelessness? Preliminary Findings from Interviews with Federal Agencies, Communities, and Advocacy Organizations
This brief, by the Urban Institute and funded by FTEH members, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Butler Family Fund works to understand the US Interagency Council on Homelessness’s (USICH’s) role in the nation’s efforts to end homelessness and potential effects of the agency’s planned termination in 2017.
The Legal Limitations on Advocacy
Funders can and should be advocates for policies and funding streams that can end and prevent homelessness. Understand the legal restrictions on private foundations’ advocacy efforts with this resource.
Webinar: Investing in Change - Supporting Advocacy and Policy Efforts
In this webinar, Funders Together partnered with Alliance for Justice to answer burning questions from our members like: How can philanthropy make the case for funding advocacy to end homelessness? Uncertain whether you can fund grantees that lobby? What’s philanthropy’s role in educating new members of Congress on housing and homelessness issues? Can philanthropy support local ballot initiative work?
Webinar: Advocacy - The Funder's Role
Now is the time to strategize how we can best use our resources as funders to help advocate for innovative and effective solutions to ending and preventing homelessness. In this webinar, we examine the various roles a funder can take to advance advocacy efforts at all levels: local, state, and federal.
Webinar: Advocacy 101 for Funders
In this webinar, the Alliance for Justice leads us on a continued learning journey around various ways foundations and United Ways can partake in advocacy to effect change. We defined lobbying and the limitations in place for different types of funders, shared examples of unique and effective ways Funders Together members engage in advocacy, and examined ways your grantees can become involved.
Funders Together Resources
As part of an ongoing effort to provide support and programming on advocacy, we've compiled resources that can aid you in starting and continuing the conversation in your work to prevent and end homelessness.
Funders can and should be advocates for policies and funding streams that can end and prevent homelessness. Understand the legal restrictions on private foundations’ advocacy efforts with this resource.
Published by Council on Foundations, this report explains “lobbying” versus networking and includes a step-by-step guide to contacting policymakers.
This report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy discusses best practices and the impact of philanthropic dollars devoted to advocacy.
An accurate census count is essential to our efforts to prevent and end homelessness. The numbers from the 2020 Census will be used to determine funding and service levels for the next ten years. We know that along with individuals experiencing homelessness, racial minorities, immigrants, young people, and people in poverty are historically hard to count. The 2020 Census is already facing new challenges including budget constraints, online response, and scaled back door-to-door outreach and canvassing.
As a field, the homelessness sector has experience and expertise counting these individuals. As funders, we can support our grantees to help ensure a fair and accurate count. Additionally, funders across the country are coming together to support local planning, inform policy makers, and to educate nonprofits.
The links below are a culmination of resources provided by our partners and members. If you are interested in having additional conversations on how the 2020 Census will specifically impact our efforts, please reach out to Lauren Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Learning Opportunities
From Funders Together
Funders Together to End Homelessness, along with nearly thirty other philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) and funders, contributed to an amicus curiae brief to contest the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The brief, submitted to the Supreme Court, provides concrete examples of how philanthropy relies on census data to support their missions, and, in turn, why the citizenship question is detrimental to efforts to effectively serve and invest in their communities.
In this webinar, we explored where current Census operations are, why philanthropy investing in housing and homelessness programs should care about the count, what some of the concerns and barriers are to counting people experiencing homelessness, and how funders can be an integral part in fair and accurate Census efforts in their community. We also heard from the Polk Bros. Foundation in Chicago on its role in the Illinois Count Me In 2020 campaign, how it supports efforts outside of funding, and the importance of bringing in funders from other sectors through mindful collaboration and coordination.
United State Census Bureau
- Area Census Offices for the 2020 Census
- 2020 Early Area Census Offices List
- Why Your Foundation Should Become a 2020 Census Partner
- How The Census Will Invite Everyone To Respond
From Our Partners
United Philanthropy Forum
- A Call for Philanthropy to Help Meet Unprecedented Challenges Facing the 2020 Census
- Census 2020: Why an Accurate Count Matters to Philanthropy
- A Critical Moment for the 2020 Census and Why Philanthropy Should Care
- Foundation Sign-on Letter: The Funders Census Initiative under the leadership of the Bauman Foundation circulated a sign-on letter for foundations.
Funders' Committee for Civic Participation
- Census 2020 Resources
- Participate. Convene. Invest. – A Call to Action for Philanthropy
- 7 Things Funders Can Do To Support Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA)
- Key 2020 Census Funder Milestones
- Census 2020 State Landscape Scan
- Citizenship Question Supreme Court Decision Day Funder Resource Guide
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality
- Citizen Question Non-Response:A Demographic Profile of People Who Do Not Answer the American Community Survey Citizenship Question
- Counting People Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide to 2020 Census Operations
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
Brennan Center for Justice
- Where Things Stand in the Citizenship Question Lawsuits (Oct 12, 2018)
National Conference of State Legislatures
National Community Action Partnership
From Our Members
We believe philanthropy has a voice in addressing homelessness and advancing solutions to prevent and end it with Congress and Presidential administration. As Funders Together to End Homelessness prepares to work with this administration, together with our national partners we are focused on continuing to make preventing and ending homelessness a bi-partisan priority. To accomplish this, we are focused on the following:
This page will serve as a collection of information that will continually be updated with new reports, fact sheets, websites, and other resources that support these priority areas.
1. Housing stability is an issue that affects education, health, and work force development. We believe in expanding the supply of housing, including affordable housing, and strengthen connections of these efforts with others to foster better health, economic mobility, and educational achievement.
- Government funding for programs that affect housing stability is critical as philanthropy cannot do it alone.
- In late March 2018, a budget was passed for FY18 and includes many highlights for the work to end homelessness. Here are some key takeaways from the most recent budget (via the National Alliance to End Homelessness):
- $4.4 billion increase to the ten largest HUD accounts which is the largest one-year increase in the last 20 years.
$130 million increase to HUD Homeless Assistance grants which is estimated to move an additional 20,000-25,000 people into housing.
- Section 8 renewals are fully funded for both project-based Section 8 and vouchers. In addition, there are funds for new "incremental" vouchers: $40 million for HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) for veterans with disabilities experiencing homelessness, $20 million for the Family Unification Program (FUP), and ~$385 million for 811 vouchers for individuals with disabilities.
- $800 million increase to Public Housing
- $400 million increase to HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME)
- $300 million increase to Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
- 12.5% increase in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC)
Read remarks by Steve Berg, National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Sarah Mickelson, National Low Income Housing Coalition, about the FY18 budget and what it means for communities around the country.
- On May 15, the House Appropriations Subcommittee released its draft FY19 spending bill. The draft bill includes:
- Maintaining the 10% increase in HUD funding from the FY18 budget with additional increases for FY19.
- An increase in homeless assistance programs funding from $2.513 billion to $2.546 billion.
- The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) funded at $3.6 million.
- Public housing capital repairs and operating funds level with FY18 dollars at $2.75 billion and $4.55 billion, respectively.
- Funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency program remaining level at $75 million.
- No funding for Family Unification vouchers.Project-Based Rental Assistance facing a $168 million decrease from FY18, lowering funding to $11.347 billion.
- $22.48 billion for tenant-based rental assistance.
- Level funding for both Veterans Affairs Support Housing (VASH) at $40 million.
- Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) level-funded at $3.365 billion and the HOME Investments Partnership program funding decreased to $1.2 billion.
- Read our May Federal Budget Update for a look at some of the budget decisions that impact housing and homelessness, an update on the THUD FY19 Budget proposal, and what philanthropy can do to push for continued and increased funding in housing and homelessness.
- Funders Together has created a Priorities for the New Congress and Administration messaging guide. This document reflects 2017-2018 messaging but is in the process of being updated with FY19 language. However, it can still be used to understand how we plan to lift up philanthropy's voice, role, and influence. It can also be used as a messaging guide for your own advocacy efforts. Download the Word document here for easy editing. Check back soon as we will be updating this as we learn more.
2. Early intervention that stops the cycle of homelessness and poverty is critical for youth and young adults.
- As a founding member of A Way Home America we believe the following transition priorities will be critical to systems change needed to provide a more stable future to our youth. The A Way Home America Transition Plan identifies actions and strategies necessary to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness. The Transition Plan is intended to inform the next Presidential Administration, federal appointees, and members of congress on our collective goals to end youth and young adult homelessness.
3. Strengthening the connections between employment services and homelessness services to both prevent homelessness and ensure that exits from homelessness are permanent, stable, and successful.
4. An accurate census count is essential to our efforts to prevent and end homelessness and the fair dispersal of funding for people and areas that need it most.
As a funder, how can you take action?
If you are a public foundation or United Way and can engage in direct lobbying, here are some action steps you can take:
- Sign up for the National Alliance to End Homelessness’s Advocacy Updates and take action by contacting public officials. Feel free to use the Priorities for the New Congress and Administration Messaging Guide for language around public-private partnerships and modify it to fit your foundation’s message.
- You can also participate in non-lobbying advocacy efforts. See examples below.
If you are unable to partake in direct lobbying efforts, here are some advocacy efforts you can participate in:
- Consider facilitating conversations between your grantees and public officials. Use your convening power to host a philanthropy-led bipartisan town hall where grantees can talk about their work and philanthropy can feature the nature of its investment and how philanthropic dollars can’t be expected to “fill the gap”.
- Write targeted op-eds in key communities. Philanthropy’s voice is important when talking about public-private partnerships. Highlighting work being done in key areas can have a ripple effect and educate community members and public officials alike. If you are interested, contact Funders Together and we can identify these key communities and assist with your op-ed strategy.
- Fund small emergency advocacy grants. Consider asking grantees about how a small emergency advocacy grant could be used to help with their efforts around strategy, communications, or grassroots engagement.
Learn more about the "Cans" and "Cannots" of being a funder involved in advocacy and lobbying efforts and get more ideas of action steps you can take through our "Advocacy - A Funder's Role" webinar.
If you have any questions regarding our transition priorities, or have a resource to share, please feel free to contact Amanda Andere at email@example.com.