A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Equal Access Rule Action Page for Funders


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.

If you have any questions about this proposed rule or submitting public comments, please email Amanda Andere or Lauren Bennett

Upcoming Programming

National Alliance to End Homelessness Webinar: A Conversation About the Equal Access Rule and Why It Matters
Wednesday, September 16 | 2pm ET, 11am PT

Additional Resources

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 

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  • Lauren Bennett
    published this page in Funder Resources 2021-01-12 06:53:03 -0500

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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