Federal officials will undertake a
first-ever study of housing discrimination based on sexual
orientation and gender identity, the AP reported.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development
Department (HUD) will begin a series of meetings to gather ideas on
how to conduct such research. The first listening session will be
held Thursday at Chicago's City Hall. Sessions will also be held in
New York City and San Francisco, cities with large gay populations.
“The evidence is clear that some are
denied the opportunity to make housing choices in our nation based on
who they are and that must end,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan
in a statement. “President Obama and I are determined that a
qualified individual and family will not be denied housing choice on
sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The agency also announced a series of policy
changes in November, including ensuring gay couples are covered under
the term “family,” requiring grantees to comply with local
gay-inclusive non-discrimination laws and specifying that any
FHA-insured mortgage loan is free from anti-gay bias.
While no nationwide study on the issue
has ever been undertaken, several organizations and states have
conducted smaller studies.
A January 2007 study by Michigan's Fair
Housing Center found that nearly 30 percent of gay and lesbian
couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a
It is illegal to discriminate against
gay people in the area of housing in less than half of the states.
Only 12 states include gender identity in their anti-discrimination
Gay advocates hope HUD's study will be
a first step towards adding sexual orientation and gender identity to
the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in sales
and rentals of homes.