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.
- 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.
- utilize the Housing Saves Lives partner toolkit to get the word out to your network about the proposed rule and its potential impacts.
- registering for our August 19th funder call on Defending the Equal Access Rule. Funders Together and Funders for LGBTQ Issues are partnering on this important call to inform funders about the proposed rule, how philanthropy can take action during the public comment process, and the importance of LGBTQ equity in philanthropy’s work.
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.
Funder Call: Defending the Equal Access Rule
Wednesday, August 19 | 3:00pm ET | 2:00pm CT | 1:00pm MT | 12:00pm PT
Funders Together and Funders for LGBTQ Issues are partnering on this timely call to share tools to help foundations take action to oppose the proposed rule and share strategies for supporting LGBTQ communities in the face of ongoing attacks from this administration.
For more information or to register, visit the funder call page.
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