Today, Franklin County Commissioners and the City of Columbus jointly announced that local leaders are applying support for new federal rules that prohibit landlords and home-loan lenders from discriminating against gay and transgender people. These local governing bodies are partnering with the Columbus Urban League and Stonewall Columbus to ensure fair access to the local dream of homeownership.
Until this year, the Fair Housing program was limited to discrimination complaints based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability or family status.
“Under new Equal Access rules through U.S. Housing and Urban Development, no one searching for a home in Franklin County can be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity when trying to access HUD-funded programs or federally-insured mortgages,” said Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown, who organized a first strategy meeting to begin a concentrated effort on outreach to the area’s GLBT community.
The new federal law opens housing access to GLBT families and individuals in four ways:
- New language states that any housing financed or insured by HUD must be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
- A new rule prohibits owners and operators of HUD-funded housing, or housing whose financing is federally insure, from inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or denying housing on that basis.
- The federal rule makes clear that the term “family” includes GLBT individuals and couples as eligible beneficiaries of HUD’s public housing and voucher programs.
- New rules make clear that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage.
“The idea of fair housing for everyone, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation is not a goal, it is a right that must be taken seriously by everyone in Columbus,” said City Councilmember Zach Klein. “These educational efforts surrounding this issue will underscore the importance of fair housing in our community.”
Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady explains that the previously narrow definition of “family” in these housing guidelines has been used to discriminate against gay or transgender couples to prevent them from renting an apartment or purchasing a home.
“This type of discrimination is very real in Central Ohio and this coordinated effort among Franklin County and our fair housing partners at the federal and local levels is just beginning,” he said.
If you need assistance investigating illegal housing discrimination complaints, please contact Stonewall Columbus’ Center on High, or the Columbus Urban League.