LGBT Fair Housing Conference with HUD

LGBT Conference.

LGBT Conference. Photo by David Bacon.

On Thursday March 10, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) hosted the 2011 LGBT Housing Discrimination Conference in conjunction with partner nonprofit organizations and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This year's conference was entitled "Increasing Access to Fair Housing for LGBT Communities through New HUD Initiatives and Community and State Agency Collaboration." The purpose of the Conference was to provide free fair housing training on new HUD initiatives and legal requirements to protect the housing rights of LGBT communities.

John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, served as keynote speaker for the event, where he discussed the new protections afforded LGBT communities by a Proposed Rule that HUD is promoting.

"Through this proposed rule, HUD is ensuring that its programs and housing serve all families," stated Assistant Secretary Trasviña. "We look forward to hearing from our key fair housing and civil rights partners in the State Capitol."

Per the summary text for the Rule, "it is HUD's responsibility to ensure that all who are otherwise eligible to participate in HUD's programs have equal access to these programs and have the opportunity to compete fairly for HUD funds without being subject to arbitrary exclusion." The Proposed Rule, entitled Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs-Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (24 CFR Parts 5, 200, 203, et al.), would mandate equal access to housing in HUD programs regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The LGBT Housing Discrimination Conference also provided a forum for discussing strategies to analyze and overcome impediments blocking progress for LGBT communities, for sharing best practices for working with consultants and advocacy groups, and for sharing resources for education and obtaining assistance with further work. CRLA's partners for the Conference included Bay Area Legal Aid, Legal Services of Northern California, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. CRLA's efforts were led by Dan Torres, CRLA Staff Attorney as well as Project Manager for Proyecto Poderoso (Powerful Project), and Illene Jacobs, Director of Litigation, Advocacy & Training.

Dan and Ilene will travel to Las Vegas in May for the American Bar Association's Equal Justice Conference, held May 18-21. Together, they will host a workshop entitled: "Challenges Confronting LGBTQ Youth and How Advocates Can Tackle Them." LGBTQ-identified youth are overrepresented in foster care and have higher rates of suicide, rejection, substance abuse, harassment and violence compared to their peers. This workshop provides tools to meet their unmet needs by identifying their legal rights, offering advocacy strategies, and highlighting the responsibility of judges and lawyers.

For more information about the conference, visit the American Bar Association's website.

Click here to download The Proposed Rule.


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