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 stands 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.
In our comments, we expressed our concern to HUD about the proposed rule changes and the harmful implications it will have for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming individuals and youth, particularly people of color who are already at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness and currently make up a disproportional percentage of the homeless population.
We also made clear that philanthropy cannot be expected to fill the gap in funding needs that this rule change will create. Resources from philanthropy are already allocated towards critical homelessness and housing programs and philanthropic funding is not distributed evenly in all parts of the country resulting in funding disparities in areas that are in the most need, particularly Black and Brown communities that have been historically marginalized and often excluded from federal resources.
Funders Together was proud to participate in the Housing Saves Lives campaign, led by True Colors United and other LGBTQ and transgender advocacy partner organizations, to center the voices of those in the LGBTQ+ community and generate a swell of public comments from allies and co-conspirators to show opposition to HUD’s proposed rule changes to the Equal Access Rule. We also leaned into the expertise of our partners at Funders for LGBTQ Issues to educate funders on the Equal Access Rule, the public comment process, and how funders can support the LGBTQ+ community in a holistic and long-term way through grantmaking strategies.
As of September 22, when the public comment period ended, more than 66,000 public comments had been submitted which is the most comments HUD has received on a rule. The prior record was more than 45,000 public comments around the Fair Housing Act's Disparate Impact Standard in 2019 (which was a record itself with previous rules generating around 1,000 comments to HUD).
Many members of Funders Together took up the call-to-action and submitted comment, such as The Colorado Health Foundation, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Greater Washington Community Foundation, Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative, Raikes Foundation, and Meyer Memorial Trust to name a few.
We are grateful for the leadership we’ve witnessed from our partners and members as they worked tirelessly to ensure the harmful implications of this rule were widely known and for giving voice to the inhumane and cruel attempts at allowing discrimination against those in the LGBTQ+ community. We are proud to be part of a united front of partners that places equity, justice, and compassion at the forefront to ensure all our neighbors have access to basic needs that can save lives, because we know #HousingSavesLives.
Funders: If you submitted public comments, please let us know so we can add your name to the list!