[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 23 (Friday, February 3, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 5661-5676]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-2343]



[[Page 5661]]

Vol. 77

Friday,

No. 23

February 3, 2012

Part III





Department of Housing and Urban Development





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24 CFR Parts 5, 200, 203, et al.





Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual 
Orientation or Gender Identity; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 23 / Friday, February 3, 2012 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 5662]]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

24 CFR Parts 5, 200, 203, 236, 400, 570, 574, 882, 891, and 982

[Docket No. FR 5359-F-02]
RIN 2501-AD49


Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual 
Orientation or Gender Identity

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HUD.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: Through this final rule, HUD implements policy to ensure that 
its core programs are open to all eligible individuals and families 
regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. 
This rule follows a January 24, 2011, proposed rule, which noted 
evidence suggesting that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) 
individuals and families are being arbitrarily excluded from housing 
opportunities in the private sector. Such information was of special 
concern to HUD, which, as the Nation's housing agency, has the unique 
charge to promote the federal goal of providing decent housing and a 
suitable living environment for all. It is important not only that HUD 
ensure that its own programs do not involve discrimination against any 
individual or family otherwise eligible for HUD-assisted or -insured 
housing, but that its policies and programs serve as models for equal 
housing opportunity.

DATES: Effective Date: March 5, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kenneth J. Carroll, Director, Fair 
Housing Assistance Program Division, Office of Fair Housing and Equal 
Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th 
Street SW., Room 5206, Washington, DC 20410-8000; telephone number 
(202) 708-2333 (this is not a toll-free number). Persons with hearing 
or speech impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the 
toll-free Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background--the January 24, 2011, Proposed Rule

    HUD published a proposed rule on January 24, 2011 (76 FR 4194), 
which advised of evidence suggesting that LGBT individuals and families 
do not have equal access to housing. Such information concerned HUD 
because HUD is charged with promoting the federal goal of providing 
decent housing and a suitable living environment for all.\1\ In the 
January 24, 2011, proposed rule, HUD noted that many state and local 
governments share the concern over equal housing opportunity for LGBT 
individuals and families. Twenty states, the District of Columbia, and 
over 200 localities have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination in 
housing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.\2\
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    \1\ This goal is rooted in section 2 of the Housing Act of 1949, 
42 U.S.C. 1441.
    \2\ See, e.g., Laws Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual 
Orientation and Gender Identity, Institute of Real Estate Management 
(IREM) Legislative Staff, July 2007, which is available at 
www.irem.org/pdfs/publicpolicy/Anti-discrimination.pdf; see also 
http://www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/Housing_Laws_and_Policies.pdf.
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    As the Nation's housing agency, it is important not only that HUD 
ensure that its own programs do not involve arbitrary discrimination 
against any individual or family otherwise eligible for HUD-assisted or 
-insured housing, but that its policies and programs serve as models 
for equal housing opportunity. In July 2010, HUD issued guidance to 
assist LGBT individuals and families facing housing discrimination. 
(See http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/LGBT_Housing_Discrimination.) In addition to the 
guidance, HUD initiated this rulemaking in January 2011 in an effort to 
ensure that HUD's rental housing and homeownership programs remain open 
to all eligible persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender 
identity, or marital status.
    HUD's January 24, 2011, rule proposed to amend 24 CFR 5.100 to 
include definitions of ``sexual orientation'' and ``gender identity'' 
among the definitions generally applicable to HUD programs. Under the 
proposed rule, 24 CFR 5.100 would define ``sexual orientation'' as 
``homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality,'' a definition that 
the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) uses in the context of the 
federal workforce in its publication ``Addressing Sexual Orientation in 
Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employee Rights.'' (See 
www.opm.gov/er/address.pdf at page 4.) The January 24, 2011, rule 
proposed to define ``gender identity'' as ``actual or perceived gender-
related characteristics,'' consistent with the definition of ``gender 
identity'' in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes 
Prevention Act, Public Law 111-84, Division E, Section 4707(c)(4) (18 
U.S.C. 249(c)(4)).
    To promote equal access to HUD's housing programs without regard to 
sexual orientation or gender identity, in the January 2011 rule, HUD 
proposed to prohibit inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender 
identity. As proposed, the prohibition precludes owners and operators 
of HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured by HUD 
from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an 
applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-
occupied. In the January 2011 rule, HUD proposed to institute this 
policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, which 
include HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance 
programs, community development programs, and public and assisted 
housing programs.\3\ While the January 2011 rule proposed to prohibit 
inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender identity, nothing in 
the rule proposed to prohibit any individual from voluntarily self-
identifying his or her own sexual orientation or gender identity. 
Additionally, the January 2011 rule did not propose to prohibit 
otherwise lawful inquiries of an applicant or occupant's sex where the 
housing involves the sharing of sleeping areas or bathrooms. This 
prohibition of inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender 
identity was proposed to be provided in a new paragraph (a)(2) to 24 
CFR 5.105.
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    \3\ Institution of this policy in HUD's Native American programs 
will be undertaken by separate rulemaking.
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    Additionally, the January 24, 2011, proposed rule clarified in the 
regulations governing HUD's housing programs that all otherwise 
eligible families, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, 
or marital status have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. 
As noted in the January 2011 proposed rule, the majority of HUD's 
rental housing and homeownership programs already interpret the term 
``family'' broadly. The proposed rule clarified that families, who are 
otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or 
more members of the family may be LGBT or perceived to be LGBT.
    Finally, the rule proposed to revise 24 CFR 203.33(b), by adding 
sexual orientation and gender identity to the characteristics that an 
FHA lender may not take into consideration in determining the adequacy 
of a mortgagor's income. Marital status is already a prohibited 
consideration under the current version of 24 CFR 203.33(b).

[[Page 5663]]

II. Changes Made at the Final Rule Stage

    In response to public comment and upon further consideration by HUD 
of the issues presented in this rulemaking, HUD makes the following 
changes at this final rule stage:
     New Sec.  5.105(a)(2) is revised to make explicit that 
eligibility determinations for HUD-assisted or -insured housing must be 
made without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender 
identity, or marital status. Also, new Sec.  5.105(a)(2) is revised by 
dividing this paragraph into two sections. Section 5.105(a)(2)(i) will 
affirmatively state that housing assisted or insured by HUD must be 
made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual 
orientation, gender identity, or marital status. New Sec.  
5.105(a)(2)(ii) includes the prohibition of inquiries regarding sexual 
orientation or gender identity for the purpose of determining 
eligibility or otherwise making housing available and further allows 
inquiries related to an applicant or occupant's sex for the limited 
purpose of determining placement in temporary, emergency shelters with 
shared bedrooms or bathrooms, or for determining the number of bedrooms 
to which a household may be entitled.
     The term ``family'' in Sec.  5.403 is slightly reorganized 
in the opening clause to read as follows: ``Family includes but is not 
limited to the following, regardless of actual or perceived sexual 
orientation, gender identity, or marital status * * *.'' This 
reorganization makes explicit that perceived, as well as actual, sexual 
orientation, gender identity, and marital status cannot be factors for 
determining eligibility for HUD-assisted housing or FHA-insured 
housing.
     The term ``family'' in 24 CFR 574.3 of the program 
regulations for the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) 
program is slightly revised to reinsert a clause in the definition of 
``family'' in the codified HOPWA regulations that was inadvertently 
omitted at the proposed rule stage. As stated below in the discussion 
of public comments, the insertion of this clause serves to combine the 
original meaning of ``family'' as provided in the HOPWA regulations 
with the meaning given the term ``family'' in 24 CFR 5.403, as revised 
by this rule.
     The regulations for HUD's Section 202 Supportive Housing 
for the Elderly and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with 
Disabilities programs are revised to provide a cross-reference to 
``family'' in 24 CFR 5.403, as revised by this rule.
    There is one issue of significant comment for which HUD is not 
making a change at the final rule stage. This pertains to development 
and implementation of a national system that reports the sexual 
orientation and gender identity of beneficiaries of HUD housing 
programs, to allow HUD to better understand the extent to which HUD 
programs are serving LGBT persons. HUD is not making the requested 
change to the rule because HUD needs more time to consider the 
feasibility of such a system and the issues it raises; foremost among 
them being maintaining the privacy rights of the individual who would 
be the subject of such reporting. However, in response to comments 
highlighting the beneficial uses of data on LGBT individuals seeking 
assistance under HUD programs, and in deference to other government 
agencies that do collect such data, HUD is clarifying that the 
prohibition on inquiries is not intended to prohibit mechanisms that 
allow for voluntary and anonymous reporting of sexual orientation or 
gender identity solely for compliance with data collection requirements 
of state or local governments or other federal assistance programs.
    With respect to permissible inquiries as to sex where the 
accommodations provided to an individual involve shared sleeping or 
bathing areas, HUD clarifies that the lawful inquiries as to sex would 
be permitted primarily for emergency shelters and like facilities. This 
temporary housing, unlike other HUD subsidized housing and unlike 
housing insured by the FHA, involves no application process to obtain 
housing, but rather involves immediate provision of temporary, short-
term shelter for homeless individuals.

III. Public Comments Submitted on Proposed Rule and HUD's Responses

A. Overview of Public Comments

    The public comment period for the proposed rule closed on March 25, 
2011. At the close of the public comment period, approximately 376 
public comments were received from a variety of commenters, including 
individuals, advocacy groups, legal aid offices, tenant and fair 
housing organizations, realtors and their representatives, law school 
clinics, public housing authorities, local government officials, and 
members of Congress. The overwhelming majority of comments were 
supportive of the rule. Some commenters, while supporting the rule, 
suggested modifications, and a minority of the commenters opposed the 
rule.
    Commenters supporting the rule stated that it was long overdue and 
noted that HUD, as the Nation's housing agency, should lead the efforts 
to prevent discrimination against LGBT persons in housing. The 
commenters supportive of the rule all pointed to the importance of 
equal housing opportunity for LGBT persons.
    Commenters opposing the rule stated that of the many important 
topics that should be addressed in the housing area, this is not one of 
them. One commenter viewed the rule as excessive government regulation. 
Other commenters opined that the rule will cause owners of multifamily 
housing to decline to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher 
program. A minority of commenters opposing the rule expressed concern 
that HUD's proposal will create an unsuitable housing environment.
    In proceeding with this final rule, HUD expresses its disagreement 
with the commenters opposing the rule. HUD believes that the concerns 
they have voiced will not be realized in practice.

B. Significant Public Comments and HUD's Responses

    This section presents significant issues raised by commenters and 
HUD's responses to these comments.
Terminology Changes
    Several commenters recommended some changes to the terms proposed 
to be included in 24 CFR part 5, including for ``family,'' ``gender 
identity,'' and ``sexual orientation.'' Commenters also proposed adding 
definitions of ``child,'' ``marital status,'' and ``sex.''
    Family. For the convenience of the reader and the discussion to 
follow, the term ``family'' proposed to be included in 24 CFR 5.403 is 
restated below:
    Family includes, but is not limited to, regardless of marital 
status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity, the 
following:
    (1) A single person, who may be an elderly person, displaced 
person, disabled person, near-elderly person, or any other single 
person; or
    (2) A group of persons residing together, and such group includes, 
but is not limited to:
    (a) A family with or without children (a child who is temporarily 
away from the home because of placement in foster care is considered a 
member of the family);
    (b) An elderly family;
    (c) A near-elderly family;
    (d) A disabled family;
    (e) A displaced family; and

[[Page 5664]]

    (f) The remaining member of a tenant family.
    Comment: One commenter proposed expanding the definition of 
``family'' to include any person or persons, regardless of their sex or 
relationship to one another, with the only restriction being to allow 
at least one, but no more than two, persons per bedroom.
    Response: HUD believes the term ``family,'' as presented in 24 CFR 
5.403, addresses the concern of the commenter. With respect to bedroom 
size, the existing occupancy requirements of HUD's public and assisted 
housing programs already address the number of persons who may occupy 
one bedroom.
    Comment: Other commenters suggested that it is important that the 
term ``family'' in HUD's rule prevent from exclusion family members who 
may identify as LGBT individuals or who have LGBT relationships, or who 
may be perceived as such.
    Response: HUD submits that the term ``family,'' as provided in 24 
CFR 5.403, and as proposed to be slightly revised by this final rule, 
prevents such arbitrary exclusion.
    Comment: Commenters suggested that the rule include in 24 CFR 
982.201(c), a Public and Indian Housing program regulation permitting 
public housing agencies (PHAs) to determine who qualifies as a family, 
an explicit statement that PHAs do not have discretion to define family 
groupings in a way that excludes LGBT persons, and that a PHA's 
discretion cannot conflict with 24 CFR 5.403. To accomplish this, a 
commenter recommended adding to 24 CFR 982.201(c) the phrase 
``regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender 
identity.''
    Response: HUD maintains that amendment of 24 CFR 982.201(c) is not 
required. The rule already proposes an amendment to 24 CFR 982.4 
requiring that PHA determinations regarding family be consistent with 
24 CFR 5.403. PHAs submit administrative plans to HUD. These 
administrative plans must include family definitions that are at least 
as inclusive as HUD's definition. This requirement has generally proven 
an effective means of ensuring compliance with HUD eligibility 
requirements for beneficiaries of its public housing programs. If this 
approach is not effective following implementation of this rule, HUD 
will revisit the issue.
    Comment: A commenter requested that HUD ensure that the term 
``family'' as presented in 24 CFR 5.403 not have an adverse impact on 
Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) recipients. The 
commenter stated that HOPWA regulations are intended to ensure that 
AIDS patients can structure their living situations broadly, according 
to their health needs.
    Response: At this final rule stage, HUD makes a slight change to 
the definition of the term ``family'' in 24 CFR 574.3, the definition 
section of the HOPWA program regulations, to reinsert in the definition 
of ``family'' the clause ``who are determined to be important to their 
care or well-being.'' This clause was inadvertently omitted in the 
proposed rule. Through insertion of this clause, the final rule 
combines the definition of family in the proposed 24 CFR 5.403 with the 
other elements of the original term ``family'' in 24 CFR 574.3.
    Comment: Commenters stated that the definition for disabled 
households may be read to exclude same-sex couples. They suggested that 
HUD amend the definition of disabled households to add an additional 
cross-reference to the term ``family'' in 24 CFR 5.403 to capture 
``regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender 
identity.''
    Response: HUD's regulations for the Section 202 Supportive Housing 
for the Elderly and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with 
Disabilities programs, codified in 24 CFR part 891, include broad 
definitions of ``elderly family'' and ``disabled household.'' 
Nevertheless, similar to the approach that HUD took with the HOPWA 
definition of the term ``family,'' HUD is adding to the regulations in 
24 CFR part 891 a cross-reference to the term ``family'' in 24 CFR 
5.403. The cross-reference to ``family'' in 24 CFR 5.403 will 
supplement the meanings already provided to ``family'' in 24 CFR part 
891.
    Comment: Commenters suggested that the term ``family'' could be 
made more inclusive by moving the phrase ``actual or perceived'' to 
explicitly include marital status, and clarifying who qualifies as a 
``child,'' as many LGBT parents lack the ability to create legal 
relationships with their children.
    Response: In response to the commenters' concern and as noted in 
Section II of this preamble, the final rule restates the term 
``family'' to provide in relevant part, as follows: ``Family includes 
but is not limited to the following, regardless of actual or perceived 
sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status * * *.'' 
However, with respect to the second request, who qualifies as a child 
has not arisen as an issue in determining eligibility for housing. 
Accordingly, HUD will not add a definition of ``child'' to the final 
rule.
    Comment: A commenter asked whether a family can be one individual.
    Response: Yes, in accordance with section 3(b)(3)(A) of the U.S. 
Housing Act of 1937, HUD's longstanding definition of ``family'' has 
always included a single person.
    Comment: A commenter stated that the term ``family'' as provided in 
24 CFR 5.403 of the proposed rule fails to give a ``definite meaning to 
family'' and leaves the door open for program abuse by allowing any 
group that wants to live together to call itself a family. Another 
commenter stated that the proposed regulation, with its expansion of 
the term ``family,'' could potentially allow any combination of persons 
to qualify as a family without the requirement of a legally recognized 
relationship. Another commenter stated that the term ``family'' as 
proposed in the January 2011 rule will make it impossible for the PHA 
to determine the family composition, the family income, or who is on 
the lease, as families could change on a weekly basis. The commenter 
submitted that the proposed change will take away the security and 
stability of the family, as well as the PHA's power to determine if a 
tenant is suitable or whether the tenant's behavior would have an 
adverse effect on other residents.
    Response: As discussed in this rulemaking, in both the proposed and 
final rules, ``family'' in HUD programs had broad meaning long before 
these regulatory amendments. By way of this rule, HUD is merely 
affirming that an eligible family may not be excluded because of actual 
or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. 
This rule's clarification of the term ``family'' has no impact on other 
program eligibility requirements, such as income qualification, annual 
certification, or the requirement that all family members are named on 
the household lease. The rule in no way precludes a PHA from 
consistently applying its otherwise lawful policies to a family 
consisting of LGBT members, just as it would a family with no LGBT 
members.
    Gender Identity. For the convenience of the reader and the 
discussion to follow, the term ``gender identity'' in proposed 24 CFR 
5.403 is restated below:
    Gender identity means actual or perceived gender-related 
characteristics.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the term ``gender-related 
characteristics'' is ambiguous and that this ambiguity could result in 
discriminatory application of the rule. The commenter called for a more 
precise definition for ``gender identity,'' but did not offer suggested 
language.

[[Page 5665]]

Another commenter was concerned that it would be very difficult to 
predict how the term ``gender identity,'' as defined in the statute, 
would actually be applied. Another commenter expressed similar concern 
that the rule does not address how ``actual or perceived gender-related 
characteristics'' would be interpreted in a given case, and recommended 
incorporation of an express reasonableness standard. The commenter 
stated that a reasonableness standard ``will require claimants to meet 
a strenuous standard for relief, without placing them in the dubious 
position of having to produce proof that is most readily available to 
potential defendants.''
    A commenter suggested replacing the term ``gender identity'' with 
the more comprehensive ``gender identity or expression.'' Another 
commenter also stated that the definition of ``gender identity'' should 
include gender-related expression, to better protect transgender 
individuals from discrimination.
    Another commenter stated that ``without more, `actual or perceived 
gender-related characteristics' could be interpreted to be limited to 
those characteristics traditionally associated with the individual's 
sex at birth.'' The commenter further stated, ``To pre-empt any 
suggestion that HUD condones this view,'' HUD should amend the language 
to read: ``Gender identity means actual or perceived gender related 
characteristics, whether or not those characteristics are 
stereotypically associated with the person's designated sex at birth.'' 
This commenter stated that the definition mirrors language currently 
adopted by a number of states and municipalities. Another commenter 
endorsed the definition suggested by the preceding commenter.
    Response: HUD appreciates the suggested revisions to the definition 
of ``gender identity'' offered by the commenters, and will consider 
these suggested revisions further. However, HUD declines to make 
changes to this term at this final rule stage. The number of suggested 
revisions to the definition highlights the differing views among the 
commenters regarding the meaning of this term. Given this, HUD believes 
that any changes to the definition should be the subject of further 
public comment before HUD submits the term as the established 
definition under which HUD programs will operate. The definition of 
``gender identity'' that is being established by this rule is based on 
the definition of ``gender identity'' in the Matthew Shepard and James 
Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 18 U.S.C. 249(c)(4). This federal 
statute was enacted in 2009 to protect LGBT individuals from targeted 
violence. Passage of the law resulted from the ongoing efforts of 
individuals personally impacted by hate crime violence, together with 
nearly 300 civil rights and religious organizations, education groups, 
and civic associations committed to gaining legal protections for 
members of the LGBT community. In addition, the bill received support 
from many major law enforcement organizations, including the 
International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District 
Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police 
Executive Research Forum, and 31 state Attorneys General. Congress 
considered the issue over multiple sessions through public hearings, 
reports, and floor debates. The purpose of HUD's rule, as with the Hate 
Crimes Prevention Act, is to provide greater protection for LGBT 
persons. Accordingly, HUD believes it appropriate to use the same 
definition of ``gender identity'' as applies in the Hate Crimes 
Prevention Act. HUD seeks to experience how this term works in its 
programs before determining what, if any, changes are needed for its 
effective application in the housing context. Commenters should note, 
however, that since the definition is intended to cover actual or 
perceived gender-related characteristics of all persons, including 
transgender persons, HUD will interpret it to include those gender-
related characteristics not stereotypically associated with a person's 
designated sex at birth.
    Sexual Orientation. For the convenience of the reader and the 
discussion to follow, the term ``sexual orientation'' in proposed 24 
CFR 5.403 is restated below:
    Sexual orientation means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or 
bisexuality.
    Comment: A commenter claimed that defining sexual orientation as 
``homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality'' alone excludes many 
people. Another commenter stated that HUD should ``broaden the 
definition of ``sexual orientation'' to ``homosexuality, 
heterosexuality, bisexuality, or sexuality as defined by the 
individual'' [emphasis added by commenter].
    Other commenters stated that HUD could add the word ``including'' 
prior to the list in the proposed definition of ``sexual orientation'' 
to clarify that the list is not exhaustive. The commenters stated that, 
as written, the definition ``excludes transgender individuals who self-
identify as multi-gendered or between genders.'' Still other commenters 
stated that the fluidity of the term sexual orientation must be 
considered in light of transgender individuals. One of the commenters 
stated that the term sexual orientation should specifically include 
transgender individuals, due to uncertainty about whether general 
``sexual orientation'' language would protect such individuals and in 
light of the historical treatment of such individuals.
    Another commenter stated that the rule should broaden protections 
for ``sexual orientation'' to include persons who self-identify as 
heterosexuals but who have histories of same-sex relationships. Such 
histories could be an issue in small communities, in particular. The 
commenter states that protection for persons who identify as bisexuals 
would not be sufficient to cover this situation.
    Response: As with commenters' suggested revisions to the definition 
of ``gender identity,'' HUD appreciates the suggested revisions to the 
definition of ``sexual orientation'' offered by commenters, but for the 
same reasons as provided in the preceding response, HUD declines to 
make changes at this final rule stage. The definition of ``sexual 
orientation,'' which HUD provided in the proposed rule, is based in 
federal policy--the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) ``Addressing 
Sexual Orientation in Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employee 
Rights.'' (See http://www.opm.gov/er/address.pdf at page 4.) The 
purpose of the OPM publication is to implement the Federal Government's 
commitment to equal employment opportunity for LGBT individuals in the 
federal civil service. The OPM publication serves a goal analogous to 
the one served by HUD's proposed rule, and, as with the definition of 
``gender identity,'' HUD seeks to experience how this term will work in 
practice before making changes to a definition currently established in 
federal policy.
    HUD notes that its rule covers actual or perceived sexual 
orientation, as well as gender identity. As such, the rule covers most 
of the situations presented by the commenters, such as identifying as 
transgender; being perceived as transgender, multi-gendered, or between 
genders; or having a history of same-sex relationships. No one 
definition in the rule need cover every situation.
    Marital Status.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding a definition of ``marital 
status'' that would define this term as ``the state of being unmarried, 
married, or separated, as defined by applicable state law. The term 
`unmarried' includes persons who are single, divorced, or widowed.''

[[Page 5666]]

    Response: The term ``marital status'' is not currently defined in 
HUD regulations and HUD does not find that the focus of this rule calls 
for a definition of ``marital status.''
    Sex.
    Comment: One commenter stated that to foreclose the possibility of 
using the allowed inquiry into sex in 24 CFR 5.105(a)(2) against 
transgender individuals, the rule should either: (a) Define ``sex'' 
broadly as ``the state of being or becoming male or female or 
transsexual;'' or (b) substitute the more inclusive term ``gender'' for 
``sex,'' and define ``gender'' as ``sex, including a person's gender 
identity and gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not 
stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.''
    Response: HUD declines to define ``sex'' or to substitute ``gender 
identity'' for ``sex'' in HUD programs. HUD recognizes the difficulty 
that transgender persons have faced in finding adequate emergency 
shelter. HUD does not, however, believe that it is necessary to define 
``sex'' as the commenter suggests. The rule makes clear that housing 
must be available without regard to actual or perceived gender identity 
and prohibits inquiries concerning such. Inquiries as to sex are 
permitted only when determining eligibility for a temporary, emergency 
shelter that is limited to one sex because it has shared sleeping areas 
and/or bathrooms, or to determine the number of bedrooms to which a 
household may be entitled. Such inquiries are not permitted in any 
other homeless shelter or housing. In light of the narrow breadth of 
the exception and the regulation's overall purpose, HUD anticipates 
that transgender individuals will have greater access to shelters and 
other housing and will monitor its programs so as to ascertain whether 
additional guidance may be necessary.
Rule Should More Directly Prohibit Discrimination
    Several commenters requested that HUD more directly prohibit 
discrimination. One commenter stated that ``a different section of the 
proposed regulation completely prohibits a mortgagee from taking into 
account the sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual in 
determining whether to provide a mortgage to that person. Amending the 
proposed regulation to completely ban housing discrimination towards 
individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity * * * 
would (1) be more consistent with the complete prohibition on using 
sexual orientation or gender identity in determining an individual's 
adequacy for a mortgage and would (2) provide greater protection to 
LGBT individuals from housing discrimination.''
    Other commenters agreed, stating that the rule could provide 
stronger protection by completely prohibiting ``discrimination based on 
sexual orientation or gender identity toward occupants of or applicants 
for HUD-assisted housing (or housing with financing insured by HUD),'' 
rather than by prohibiting certain inquiries. The commenters stated 
that there are ways other than direct inquiry that LGBT individuals 
could be identified or discriminated against.
    Still other commenters expressed concern that people who are 
gender-nonconforming may be perceived as gay or lesbian without any 
inquiry into their sexual orientation and that most discrimination 
against LGBT persons occurs not because a person answered an inquiry 
about sexual orientation or gender identity, but because of assumptions 
about a person's gender identity or sexual orientation. Those 
commenters proposed adding language that clearly prevents 
discrimination on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or 
gender identity.
    One commenter suggested that proposed 24 CFR 5.105(a) be revised to 
cite 18 U.S.C. 249, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, ``for the inference 
that Congress intends to discourage animus against others based on 
their sexual orientation, and therefore HUD will similarly disallow 
animus against others based on their sexual orientation.'' Another 
commenter also referenced the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, stating that 
HUD's rule falls short of the goals of that Act. The commenter stated 
that a rule prohibiting inquiries will have little effect on those who 
discriminate based on their unverified perceptions.
    Response: HUD believes that the revision made to Sec.  5.105(a)(2), 
as discussed in Section II of this preamble, addresses the commenters' 
concern.
Interpret the Fair Housing Act To Cover Discrimination Based on Sexual 
Orientation or Gender Identity
    One commenter suggested that HUD interpret ``discriminatory 
practice'' in the Fair Housing Act to include discrimination against 
persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
    Response: In order to ensure equal access for all eligible families 
to HUD programs, this rule requires that eligibility determinations for 
HUD-assisted or -insured housing be made without regard to sexual 
orientation, gender identity, or marital status. These additional 
program requirements do not, however, create additional protected 
classes in existing civil rights laws such as the federal Fair Housing 
Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, 
color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status. 
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not identified as protected 
classes in the Fair Housing Act. As discussed in the following section, 
however, the Fair Housing Act's prohibition of discrimination on the 
basis of sex prohibits discrimination against LGBT persons in certain 
circumstances, such as those involving nonconformity with gender 
stereotypes.
Interpret Sex Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act To Reach 
Discrimination and Harassment of LGBT Persons
    A commenter stated that proposed 24 CFR 5.403, prohibiting 
inquiries of ``actual or perceived sexual orientation,'' could be 
revised to prohibit inquiries of ``actual or perceived sex.'' The 
commenter stated that sex is already a protected class under the Civil 
Rights Act of 1964 and could be used to reach discrimination against 
LGBT persons.
    Response: HUD declines to revise the proposed rule to prohibit 
inquiries of sex, but notes that certain complaints from LGBT persons 
would be covered by the Fair Housing Act. If an LGBT person experiences 
any of the forms of discrimination enumerated in the Fair Housing Act, 
such as race or sex discrimination, that person can invoke the 
protections of the Fair Housing Act to remedy that discrimination. 
Discrimination based on sex under the Fair Housing Act includes 
discrimination because of nonconformity with gender stereotypes. For 
example, if a PHA denies a voucher to a person because the person does 
not conform to gender stereotypes, that person may file a Fair Housing 
Act complaint with HUD alleging sex discrimination.
    HUD may also have jurisdiction to process a complaint filed under 
the Fair Housing Act if an LGBT person obtains housing but then 
experiences discrimination in the form of sexual harassment. Sexual 
harassment is illegal under the Fair Housing Act if the conduct is 
motivated by sex and is either so severe or pervasive that it creates a 
hostile environment or the provision of housing or its benefits is 
conditioned on the receipt of sexual favors (for example, as a quid pro 
quo). Harassment may be motivated by sex if, for example, it is due to 
the landlord's view that the tenant's appearance or

[[Page 5667]]

mannerisms fail to conform with stereotypical expectations of how a man 
or woman should look or act. Housing owners or operators may be liable 
for their own actions or the actions of their employees or other 
residents.
    If HUD determines that it does not have jurisdiction to investigate 
a complaint from an LGBT person, the person may still be protected 
under state and local laws that include sexual orientation or gender 
identity as protected classes.
Expand the Rule's Protection To Cover Discrimination Beyond Refusal To 
Rent
    A commenter recommended expanding the proposed rule to prohibit 
harassment and disparate treatment on the basis of sexual orientation 
or gender identity. The commenter explained that in order for the 
proposed rule to maximize its effectiveness, owners and operators of 
HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured by HUD 
should be precluded from negative decisionmaking based on these 
protected categories. HUD should be clear about its power to enforce 
nondiscrimination and the remedies available to individuals who have 
been discriminated against.
    Another commenter suggested that the prohibition on inquiries be 
strengthened so that no information about a person's sexual orientation 
or gender identity can be used to deny a tenancy, harass a tenant, 
evict a tenant, or terminate a voucher.
    Yet other commenters recognized the intent behind prohibiting 
inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender identity, but 
submitted that the prohibition will not adequately protect LGBT persons 
from harassment in housing, as much housing discrimination occurs when 
a housing provider infers a person's sexual orientation or gender 
identity based on stereotypes, appearances, mannerisms, or information 
from a third party. The commenters urged HUD to adopt a final rule that 
prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender 
identity in all HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing.
    Response: HUD believes the revision made to Sec.  5.105(a)(2), as 
discussed in Section II of this preamble, addresses the commenters' 
concern. In order to ensure equal access for all eligible families to 
HUD programs, Sec.  5.105(a)(2) requires that eligibility 
determinations for HUD-assisted or -insured housing be made without 
regard to sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
Prohibition on Inquiries
    Several commenters suggested changes to the prohibition on 
inquiries in proposed 24 CFR 5.105(a)(2). The proposed rule provided as 
follows:

    No owner or administrator of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured 
housing, approved lender in an FHA mortgage insurance program, nor 
any (or any other) recipient or subrecipient of HUD funds may 
inquire about the sexual orientation, or gender identity of an 
applicant for, or occupant of, a HUD-assisted dwelling or a dwelling 
whose financing is insured by HUD, whether renter- or owner-
occupied. This prohibition on inquiries regarding sexual orientation 
or gender identity does not prohibit any individual from voluntarily 
self-identifying the individual's sexual orientation or gender 
identity.

    Comment: A commenter stated that the prohibition on inquiries may 
discourage open dialogue when determining appropriate placement of 
families applying for HUD programs. Inquiries regarding sexual 
orientation or gender identity may be appropriate where the safety of 
the individual or family being placed is of concern. There also may be 
other nondiscriminatory reasons for a person responsible for program 
placement to inquire about an individual's sexual orientation or gender 
identity. This commenter states that ``the language [should] be changed 
to simply include `actual and perceived sexual orientation and gender 
identity' in the section for nondiscrimination; or that the prohibition 
on inquiries [should be] limited to discriminatory purposes.''
    Response: Revised Sec.  5.105(a)(2) addresses the commenters' 
nondiscrimination concerns. In addition, the prohibition on inquiries 
regarding sexual orientation or gender identity does not prevent 
individuals from volunteering to identify their sexual orientation or 
gender identity. They may choose to do so to address any safety 
concerns or for other placement-related issues, for example. Also, the 
commenter's concern is one that prompted HUD to include in the proposed 
rule its language on the permissibility of lawful inquiries as to sex, 
which is discussed below. However, as noted in the discussion of 
Section II of this preamble, and addressed in revised Sec.  
5.105(a)(2), the inquiries permissible in determining program 
eligibility are contemplated generally only where temporary, emergency 
shelter is provided to homeless individuals that involves the sharing 
of sleeping areas or bathrooms, or for a determination of the number of 
bedrooms to which a household may be entitled.
Lawful Inquiries of Sex
    Several commenters requested clarification of the rule's lawful 
inquiry provision or expressed concern that the provision would allow 
for discrimination. The lawful inquiry provision provided by the 
proposed rule stated as follows:

    [The] prohibition on inquiries regarding sexual orientation or 
gender identity does not prohibit lawful inquiries of an applicant 
or occupant's sex where the housing provided or to be provided to 
the individual involves the sharing of sleeping areas or bathrooms.

    Comment: A commenter stated that the lawful inquiry exception for 
the sharing of sleeping areas or bathrooms may exacerbate extant 
stereotypes about gays and lesbians living in close quarters with 
heterosexuals. The commenter stated that numerous scenarios come to 
mind where landlords abuse this exception to refuse to rent to 
homosexuals, purportedly because heterosexuals feel uncomfortable 
``sharing bathrooms or living space'' with homosexuals. The only 
legitimate purpose of such an exception, the commenter stated, would be 
in single-sex housing situations. But even there, the commenter stated, 
the inquiry is ``entirely irrelevant and inappropriate'' as to 
transgender status, because the person would have already acquired a 
new gender.
    A commenter stated that the assumption that one person's sexual 
orientation might disturb the rights of another person in a setting 
where bathrooms and bedrooms would be shared reinforces stereotypes and 
biases, rather than countering them. Another commenter made a similar 
comment, stating that the proposal continues to promote negative 
stereotypes and violence against LGBT persons. A commenter speculated 
that while such language was placed in the proposal with the intention 
of ensuring that other tenants remain comfortable and safe, there are 
several issues with that goal, the first of which is whether ``leaving 
so much up to the discretion of the landlord will lead to greater 
potential risk of danger for these tenants.''
    Another commenter stated that this provision creates numerous 
problems in application. The commenter states that asking someone who 
identifies with the so-called ``opposite'' gender to identify their sex 
implies that their identification is not ``real'' or ``genuine,'' and 
that reinforces the very problems the regulation seeks to resolve. This 
commenter stated that as with sexual orientation, it is difficult to 
imagine how one's gender identity, even in a shared situation, would be 
a problem for

[[Page 5668]]

any other person, as few programs require individuals to share bedrooms 
with strangers.
    Another commenter also expressed concern about the practical effect 
of allowing inquiries into the applicant's or occupant's sexual 
orientation or gender identity. The commenter stated that it is not 
clear from the proposed rule whether this language provides an 
exhaustive or merely illustrative list of scenarios under which it is 
appropriate to inquire about an individual's gender. The commenter 
claimed that if the language is merely illustrative, a housing provider 
will likely be authorized to make broad inquiries into an applicant's 
gender identity when any shared living space is anticipated. A 
commenter stated that this ``lawful inquiry'' into sex could be used to 
indirectly reach gender identity, for instance in the case of a 
transgender individual, and this allowed inquiry could be used to 
accomplish the kind of discrimination the rule is meant to prevent. 
Another commenter expressed concern about the impact unrestricted 
inquiries would have on low-income transgender people who cannot afford 
to access legal gender change petitions.
    Response: The allowance of lawful inquiries of sex for housing that 
provides shared bathrooms or sleeping arrangements is not a license to 
exclude LGBT persons from HUD-assisted housing. HUD programs must be 
open and available to persons regardless of sexual orientation or 
gender identity. The allowance of the limited inquiry of sex provided 
in the proposed rule is intended to apply primarily in emergency 
shelters for homeless persons, to ensure privacy if the shelter 
consists of shared sleeping or bathing areas. HUD addressed the 
harassment issue earlier in this preamble.
    Comment: A commenter noted that HUD had not proposed a definition 
of what is meant by the term ``housing provided * * * to the individual 
(that) involves the sharing of sleeping areas or bathrooms.'' The 
commenter stated that ``[t]here was presumably no intention to permit 
inquiry of any person applying to any development that had bathrooms in 
common space. Additionally, by not providing that the ``sharing'' 
reference applies only to persons who are not part of the same 
household,'' it would open the door to inquiries of all applicants for 
all housing that permits households of more than one individual.
    Response: HUD believes that revised Sec.  5.105(a)(2), in this 
final rule, expressly provides that LGBT status cannot be a basis for 
denying participation in a program funded or insured by HUD. Moreover, 
the inquiry permitted by the rule is not unrestricted. As provided in 
this final rule, HUD believes it is appropriate to make inquiries as to 
sex in temporary, emergency shelters that have shared bedrooms or 
bathrooms. This housing, unlike other HUD subsidized housing and 
housing insured by FHA, necessitates immediate provision of temporary 
shelter for homeless individuals.
    Comment: Another commenter expressed concern that the proposed 
prohibition on inquiries concerning gender identity may adversely 
affect the assignment of households to appropriately sized housing. The 
commenter explained that many local programs determine housing size in 
part based on the gender of household members, because household 
members of different genders other than spouses are not required to 
share a bedroom. According to the commenter, sponsors may assign 
households to housing that is too small or too large based on members' 
genders, consuming unnecessary housing assistance resources. A 
commenter suggested that HUD clarify the existing exception or add 
another exception to the blanket prohibition against inquiries to 
permit the assignment of households to properly sized housing.
    Response: With the clarification provided in this final rule that 
HUD intended to allow lawful inquiries to a limited sector of HUD-
assisted programs, HUD does not believe the commenter's concerns will 
be realized.
    Comment: A commenter expressed concern about the lawful inquiries 
provision in the rule because the commenter believed the provision 
would allow housing providers to inquire about someone's human 
immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) 
status, and explained that gay men are often discriminated against when 
they are considered to have HIV/AIDS.
    Response: Nothing in the lawful inquiries provision of this rule 
and no provision in HUD's existing regulations for its housing programs 
allows a housing provider to inquire about someone's HIV status, except 
where providing HIV/AIDS-related housing assistance and supportive 
services (e.g. activities under the HOPWA program (24 CFR part 574)), 
and subject to confidentiality requirements. Moreover, the federal Fair 
Housing Act, which HUD enforces and administers, prohibits 
discrimination against someone who has or is regarded as having a 
disability, including HIV/AIDS. (See 42 U.S.C. 3602(h)(3) and 
3604(f)(1).)
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that inquiries as to 
a person's ``sex'' in situations involving shared sleeping areas and 
bathrooms is not sufficiently clear to guard against discrimination 
based on gender identity and asked HUD to provide further guidance. One 
commenter stated that this exception for lawful inquiries ``leaves 
landlords with significant discretion to deny housing on illegitimate 
grounds.'' This same commenter stated that HUD ``should add language to 
more clearly confine this exception to its legitimate ends.'' Another 
commenter requested that HUD clarify what type of inquiries are 
acceptable and in what specific circumstances, so as not to allow this 
exception to become a pretext for discrimination based on gender 
identity.
    Several commenters stated that the allowed inquiry into sex 
provided could be used to identify and target transgender individuals, 
in particular, because the term ``sex'' used in the rule is vague and 
because the ``lawful inquiries'' exception is too broadly defined, 
leaving landlords ``significant discretion to deny housing on 
illegitimate grounds.'' Some of these commenters thought the exception 
should be more narrowly defined.
    One commenter stated that the proposed rule does not provide 
sufficient guidance to clarify for housing providers the limits of 
permissible inquiry into the applicant's sex, thus placing housing 
administrators in the position of arbiter of the transgender 
individual's sex for the purpose of their housing applications, and 
exposing transgender persons to harm and discrimination because of 
varying interpretations. Another commenter similarly stated that ``the 
exception for inquiries about sex for determining eligibility for 
single sex-dormitories or housing with single-sex shared-bathrooms 
might create opportunities for discrimination against transgender 
persons.'' The commenter asked HUD ``to establish strict limitations on 
when these questions are appropriate.''
    A commenter stated that opponents of the rule will likely focus on 
the ``niche issue of the placement of transgender individuals (or those 
that are pretending to be transgender) in single sex facilities.'' The 
commenter stated that HUD, in the interest of addressing these critics 
and for clarity overall, ``should fully analyze this question instead 
of merely stating that the rule is `not intended to prohibit otherwise 
lawful inquiries''' of sex, which is vague. The commenter asked, as an 
example, ``[c]an a battered women's shelter still receive funding from 
HUD if it denies shelter to

[[Page 5669]]

a man, who perceives himself to be a woman? What would be the 
adjudicatory process in such an event? Is this event a realistic 
scenario? HUD should further analyze issues such as these both to 
undercut critics' arguments that the proposed rule would be unworkable 
and to better guide its local program coordinators in proper practices. 
The overarching goal of this proposed rule change is too important for 
it to be scrapped because of this rare and currently murky legal 
scenario.''
    Another commenter stated that a transgender person's actual sex may 
be at odds with his or her appearance, and questioned the meaning of 
this provision for such a person. A commenter asked if transgender 
persons may be excluded from shared housing or gay men excluded from 
sharing housing with other men. If so, would other accommodations be 
made for excluded groups? Other commenters urged HUD to clarify the 
rule to state that a housing provider may only inquire about 
individuals' gender identity for the purpose of placing them in gender-
specific accommodations, but cannot inquire about a person's birth sex, 
anatomy, or medical history.
    Response: In Section II of this preamble, HUD has already addressed 
several of the concerns raised by the commenters. HUD is committed to 
further review of this issue and, as necessary, will issue guidance 
that, through examples, elaborates on how the prohibition of inquiries 
on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the allowance for lawful 
inquiries as to sex, will work in practice.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that HUD-funded programs 
should accept an individual's gender identity, as opposed to ``sex'' in 
determining housing placement in sex-segregated housing programs. One 
commenter stated that lawful inquiries of a consumer's ``sex'' where 
housing involves the sharing of sleeping areas and bathrooms leave 
transgender individuals, who may need the most protection, particularly 
vulnerable to discrimination. Another commenter stated that even 
inquiries of individuals who have obtained legal gender change 
documents would lead to harassment and discrimination. For this reason, 
the commenter suggested that inquiries about sex for sex-specific 
housing should be made in reference to an individual's gender identity.
    Another commenter stated that if applicants are not allowed to 
report their gender identity rather than their sex as legally defined 
by their state government, the considerable differences among states as 
to how persons may change their sex would lead to a considerable lack 
of uniformity across HUD programs. The commenter further stated that 
transgender persons may be arbitrarily excluded from HUD programs if 
they are forced to report their sex as defined by their state 
government, instead of being permitted to report a gender identity that 
more accurately describes them. Several commenters expressing similar 
concerns recommended that the rule be revised so that a person is 
required only to disclose the gender they identify as regardless of sex 
assigned at birth and not be asked to provide proof of that identity.
    Other commenters stated that the rule should allow for voluntary 
self-reporting where sex designations are required. In such cases, the 
commenter stated that ``HUD could allow applicants to list the sex 
designation they would like to have rather than their biological or as 
yet medically un-reassigned sex.'' The commenter stated that this would 
help to avoid the problem of using allowed inquiries regarding sex to 
get to issues of gender identity. Another commenter stated that it is 
important to ensure that persons are able to self-select their sex in 
order to protect the access of transgender persons to housing 
facilities. Another commenter, after querying how the ``lawful 
inquiries'' regarding sex will apply to transgender individuals, stated 
that ``in these instances, self-identification is probably the best way 
to go; however, this may be an area best left with some discretion.''
    Response: HUD recognizes the serious problem of housing instability 
among transgender persons. The housing discrimination, harassment, and 
homelessness that transgender persons face are part of what 
precipitated HUD's rulemaking in this area. These issues also 
contributed to HUD's recent recognition that housing discrimination 
because of nonconformity with gender stereotypes may constitute sex 
discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. HUD is aware of the 
significant challenges that transgender persons face when attempting to 
access shelters. By way of this rule, however, HUD is not mandating a 
national policy related to appropriate placement of transgender persons 
in shelters limited to one sex. HUD needs additional time to review 
this issue and determine whether setting national policy is 
appropriate.
    Comment: A commenter expressed concern about being required to 
identify the sex of tenants on the Form HUD-50059, given that the 
applicant/tenant is not asked to self-identify sex but rather the 
information is assigned by a third party based on observation. Form 
HUD-50059 is used to determine the number of bedrooms a family may 
need, based on the age and sex of the children. The commenter submitted 
that requiring information on sex to be reported on Form 50059 
conflicts with the proposed rule prohibiting inquiries about sex, and 
suggested that individuals should self-identify their gender and sex.
    Response: HUD will further examine this form, to determine whether 
a change is needed. The form is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), which requires notice and comment 
when changes are made. Accordingly, any changes made to this form will 
provide the public the opportunity to comment, and such comment will 
not only be helpful in addressing the specific issues raised about this 
form, but may inform HUD on changes that may be needed to other forms.
Collect Data To Protect LGBT Community
    Several commenters suggested that HUD establish a confidential data 
collection system to identify LGBT beneficiaries of HUD housing 
programs to ensure that their housing needs are met and that they are 
protected from discrimination.
    Comment: Several commenters proposed that HUD provide a mechanism 
by which applicants and tenants of HUD-assisted housing or HUD-insured 
housing can voluntarily report their sexual orientation and gender 
identity. Such data would be collected for informational purposes only, 
and in a manner to protect the confidentiality of the responder.
    Commenters identified varying need for such data. One commenter 
explained that data on the sexual orientation and gender identity of 
HUD program participants is crucial to demonstrate the need for 
affirmative outreach, assess its effect, and attract resources to 
address problems in this area. Other commenters stated that the data 
would be of substantial value for the development of appropriate 
programs and policies. One commenter specified that information on 
program participants' sexual orientation and gender identity can be 
useful to determine whether appropriate servicers are being delivered 
and to assess whether progress is being made in meeting the housing 
needs of LGBT youth and adults. Other commenters stated that data 
should be collected only to assess whether the rule is achieving its 
goals.
    Commenters provided specific suggestions for safeguarding 
confidentiality. One commenter

[[Page 5670]]

proposed that inquiries should not be permitted until after admission 
decisions have been made, and another stated that only staff involved 
in the collection and analysis of the data should have access to it. 
Other commenters urged HUD to continue to work with fair housing 
organizations and the housing community to collect demographic 
information on the LGBT community in a way that cannot be used to 
discriminate, by including appropriate restrictions on the acquisition, 
retention, and use of the information to protect the privacy of those 
whose data is being collected. Several commenters discussed the effect 
of the proposed prohibition on inquiries on data collection. One 
commenter stated there are a myriad of potential mechanisms for 
achieving the dual goals of protection against discrimination while 
gathering sufficient data to monitor LGBT housing discrimination. The 
commenter proposed a voluntary reporting system that would allow 
persons who wish to self-identify to bypass housing providers and PHAs 
and submit demographic information directly to HUD. The commenter 
suggested that language be added to existing forms that would direct 
all applicants and occupants of HUD-assisted housing wishing to provide 
such information to a Web site and mailing address for HUD's Office of 
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. The commenter stated that this 
could enable the person to submit the information anonymously, while 
providing HUD with sufficient demographic information to monitor 
discrimination.
    Another commenter also viewed voluntary disclosure as the 
appropriate balancing of the right to privacy ``against the rule's 
purpose in ensuring equal access to housing.'' But according to the 
commenter, ``[w]hile the rule proposal notes that the inquiry 
prohibition does nothing to limit voluntary disclosure, it also does 
nothing to channel such disclosures in a way that promotes the rule's 
underlying goal.''
    One commenter recommended that HUD conform its data collection 
systems related to the sex of household members to the proposed 
prohibition of inquiries concerning gender identity. Another commenter 
stated that the prohibition on inquiries regarding gender identity 
could result in the inadvertent housing of dangerous individuals 
because, in the commenter's view, gender identity is an important 
component of the applicant information collected to gather accurate 
criminal background information. The commenter supported the 
establishment of a database containing gender identity information of 
applicants.
    Response: For the reasons discussed in Section II of the preamble, 
HUD declines to include in this regulation a national reporting system 
of sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD understands the concerns 
of the commenters, but believes that further consideration must be 
given to this proposal. This final rule is not intended to prohibit 
mechanisms that allow for voluntary and anonymous reporting of sexual 
orientation or gender identity for compliance with data collection 
requirements of state and local governments or other federal assistance 
programs, but only after determining the individual's or family's 
eligibility for HUD assistance.
    Comment: Commenters urged HUD to look for ways to collect and 
maintain data to help identify and combat LGBT housing discrimination, 
while protecting and preserving privacy and safety, and preventing 
further discrimination or retaliation so that additional policy efforts 
can be further developed. The commenters stated that because 
discrimination against LGBT individuals is substantially underreported, 
the final rule should contain language requiring covered housing 
providers and grantees to provide accessible information about these 
protections, as well as necessary information on how people can submit 
complaints when they believe their rights have been violated.
    One commenter urged HUD to work with the LGBT community and fair 
housing organizations to collect demographic data on sexual orientation 
and gender identity to better enable the LGBT community to advocate for 
increased funding for geographic and programmatic areas where LGBT 
persons remain vulnerable. Another commenter stated that because sexual 
orientation and gender identity are still not identified in the Fair 
Housing Act as prohibited bases for discrimination, data must be 
collected to reflect the number of LGBT individuals and families 
seeking access to HUD programs and services to help advocate for 
necessary policy changes and to identify areas where LGBT persons 
remain particularly vulnerable to discrimination.
    Response: HUD appreciates all the proposals submitted by the 
commenters. As discussed in Section II of the preamble, HUD declines to 
add a data collection mechanism to the rule. HUD notes, however, that 
it has existing mechanisms for collecting and reporting on 
discrimination claims filed with its Office of Fair Housing and Equal 
Opportunity. (See http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_discrimination.)
Enforcement Procedures
    Comment: Several commenters noted that the proposed rule was not 
explicit as to how HUD plans to enforce the rule. One commenter stated 
that there must be a mechanism by which claims of discrimination in HUD 
programs can be voiced by the LGBT community. Another commenter echoed 
that concern, stating that if sexual orientation or gender identity 
discrimination does occur, it must be clear to the landlords and future 
tenants that these matters will be addressed in a fair and timely 
manner.
    A commenter suggested that HUD include in the final rule a clear 
procedure for submitting complaints, holding hearings, and making 
determinations of violations of HUD program rules. Another commenter 
suggested including an appeals process. One commenter suggested that 
HUD create a centralized complaint system through which persons can 
submit information about discrimination under the rule. That commenter 
proposed that HUD establish a telephone number for complaints based on 
violations of the proposed rule, and that HUD designate a coordinator 
to direct complaints to the appropriate persons in the program offices. 
The commenter proposed that HUD create a complaint intake form similar 
to the existing Form HUD-903 that persons use to file complaints under 
the Fair Housing Act. The commenter stated that creating a centralized 
intake system would have the benefit of facilitating the filing of 
reports of discrimination, as well as providing more information about 
the occurrence of discrimination in HUD programs. The commenter stated 
that ``[p]ractical mechanisms for enforcement will allow LGBT families 
and advocates to fully utilize these changes to access housing.''
    One commenter questioned whether HUD anticipates an expansion of 
its Investigations Division to support the proposed rule, and if so, 
what if any training the existing staff would undergo to adequately 
prepare for this type of investigation. Another commenter simply 
suggested that HUD consider expanding its investigative units to 
respond to the likely increase in complaints.
    A commenter inquired whether the regulations create a new right for 
aggrieved parties. The commenter explained that while an aggrieved 
party can file a complaint alleging discrimination on grounds expressly

[[Page 5671]]

forbidden in the Fair Housing Act, the proposed rule does not seem to 
give victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender 
identity the same right. The commenter requested clarification 
regarding what method of enforcement HUD will implement if it does not 
explicitly extend this right to victims of discrimination based on 
sexual orientation or gender identity. The commenter concluded that 
without zealous and informed enforcement, these regulations will 
provide only lip service to the broader goals of promoting access to 
HUD programs for all eligible families.
    Response: As noted in response to an earlier comment, this rule 
creates additional program requirements to ensure equal access to HUD 
programs for all eligible families. Therefore, a violation of the 
program requirements established by this rule will be handled in the 
same manner that violations of other program requirements are handled. 
Each HUD program has in place mechanisms for addressing violations of 
program requirements. If a participant in HUD-assisted or HUD-insured 
housing programs believes that the housing provider is not complying 
with program requirements, the individual may complain to the 
appropriate HUD office that administers the program (e.g., the Office 
of Public and Indian Housing, the Office of Community Planning and 
Development). In addition, as also noted in the earlier response to a 
comment, certain complaints would be covered by the Fair Housing Act. A 
claim of discrimination based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes 
may be investigated and enforced under the Fair Housing Act as sex 
discrimination. HUD recently published guidance on this. See http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/LGBT_Housing_Discrimination. Such claims would be filed 
through HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the Web 
site noted earlier in this preamble: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_discrimination or 1-(800) 669-9777. Many 
states and localities have laws prohibiting discrimination based on 
one's LGBT status. HUD's guidance, referenced above, contains a list of 
such states. As noted below, HUD will develop training materials to 
educate recipients of HUD funding of their rights and responsibilities 
under this rule.
Remedies
    Other commenters recommended that HUD clearly explain its authority 
to provide remedies under the rule, whether it is to sanction, suspend, 
debar, or seek civil penalties against those individuals or entities 
who deny individuals and families safe, clean, affordable housing 
because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The commenters 
believe that ``setting the rules in stone'' would deter housing 
providers from violating the terms of the rule.
    Response: Whenever a participant in a HUD program fails or refuses 
to comply with regulatory requirements, such failure or refusal shall 
constitute a violation of the requirements under the program in which 
the participant is operating and the participant will be subject to all 
sanctions and penalties for violation of program requirements, as 
provided for under the applicable program, including the withholding of 
HUD assistance. In addition, as is discussed in the prior response, HUD 
may pursue an enforcement action when the Fair Housing Act is 
implicated. A housing provider who is found to have violated the Fair 
Housing Act may be liable for actual damages, injunctive and other 
equitable relief, civil penalties, and attorney's fees.
Education, Outreach, and Guidance
    A commenter stated that HUD should add education requirements. The 
commenter stated that within 9 months after this regulation goes into 
effect, entities that participate in HUD programs should educate their 
relevant staff on the rule. An Internet-based training program could be 
efficiently used. This requirement could be waived in rural areas that 
currently lack Internet access, or an alternative means of satisfying 
the requirement could be created, such as participation via telephone. 
This commenter also stated that within 9 months, HUD should require 
participating entities to begin providing individuals with updated 
information regarding their rights to be free from discrimination. This 
commenter stated that given limited resources, HUD should focus its 
efforts on areas with large LGBT populations and in jurisdictions that 
do not currently possess anti-discrimination statutes that cover sexual 
orientation or gender identity.
    Another commenter stated that whether this policy has its desired 
effect will greatly depend on outside factors. The anti-discrimination 
policies in place should be brought to the attention of applicants for 
HUD housing through HUD application forms, interviews, and Web site 
pages. HUD employees should be instructed as to the reasons for these 
policies and should be sanctioned for any behavior or comment that 
discriminates against individuals covered under HUD's policies. 
Employees who are sensitive to LGBT issues should be enlisted to 
provide information to assist LGBT individuals and their families in 
making decisions as to the most comfortable and safe housing. Another 
of the commenters stated that in order to ensure compliance with the 
proposed rule, it will be necessary to educate the affected agencies 
and programs on the meaning of ``actual or perceived gender-related 
characteristics,'' a definition cited in the rule and drawn from the 
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
    Another commenter recommended that HUD develop comprehensive 
outreach goals and advertise in the LGBT media. The commenter 
recommended that forms HUD-935.2(a) or (b) be amended for this purpose 
to include categories for gender identity and sexual orientation as 
target groups, and that such forms be available for all HUD-assisted 
programs. The commenter also suggested that PHAs affirmatively market 
to underrepresented populations as they are required to affirmatively 
market housing under the Fair Housing Act. Other commenters recommended 
that HUD-assisted housing providers be required to affirmatively market 
to the LGBT population through community centers and other outreach 
groups. One of these commenters stated that HUD program staff, PHAs, 
subsidized housing providers, and housing-related service providers 
will need education on the final rule to ensure that they are in 
compliance.
    A commenter recommended that HUD conduct a public relations 
campaign that explains the new regulation and welcomes LGBT families. 
The commenter suggested that owners and operators of HUD-assisted 
housing and FHA-insured housing be aware of the proposed rule and its 
impact on their day-to-day dealings with tenants and mortgagors, while 
also suggesting that HUD create literature, posters, and other 
materials directed at LGBT families. The commenter stated that these 
advertisements should advise LGBT families that HUD wants to ensure 
their equal access to its core rental assistance and homeownership 
programs, while the media campaign should convey that HUD is committed 
to taking actions necessary to ensure that LGBT families are not 
excluded on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or 
other criteria irrelevant to the purpose of HUD.
    Another commenter stated that if LGBT individuals do not know about

[[Page 5672]]

the proposed regulation, it will be much less effective. If enforcement 
of the proposed regulation largely depends on litigation by those who 
have been discriminated against, then those individuals must know that 
the discrimination that they faced was actually illegal. HUD should 
work with prominent LGBT organizations, as well as with nonprofits that 
deal with fair housing and with state and local governments to 
disseminate these proposed rules in a simple and easy-to-understand 
way.
    A commenter specifically inquired about whether HUD's Fair Housing 
Enforcement Office would provide training on the implementation of the 
rule. Another commenter states that, in particular, HUD should: (1) 
Publicize the new regulation, (2) develop know-your-rights materials 
for LGBT individuals to promote the reporting of violations, and (3) 
provide mandatory trainings to owners and operators of HUD-assisted 
housing programs to encourage compliance.
    Another commenter recommended that HUD issue clear guidelines that 
will ensure that LGBT tenants of single-sex housing will not be singled 
out for harassment or disparate treatment on the basis of their sexual 
orientation or gender identity. The commenter suggested that HUD owners 
and operators be given instructions on how to provide reasonable 
accommodations for LGBT families, including, where possible, mechanisms 
that provide privacy in public showers. The commenter stated that HUD 
staff, as well as HUD owners and operators, should be trained on the 
importance of safe housing for persons who self-identify as 
transgender.
    Response: Without question, HUD plans to engage in education and 
outreach about this rule, and will consider many of the proposals 
offered by the commenters on how such education and outreach may be 
conducted.
Rule Should Wait for Completion of Study
    Comment: A commenter expressed concern that HUD's proposed rule was 
published before HUD completed its study on housing discrimination 
based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The commenter 
suggested that HUD complete its study and consider the study's evidence 
in revising and finalizing the proposed rule rather than developing the 
regulation and conducting the study simultaneously.
    Response: The study to which the commenter refers concerns the 
private sector and not HUD's programs. Accordingly, HUD does not find 
it necessary to wait for the completion of the study. It is HUD's 
desire to proactively address the possibility of discrimination against 
LGBT individuals and families in HUD's housing programs.
Rule Did Not Properly Address Federalism Concerns
    Comment: A commenter stated that this rule fails to properly 
address federalism concerns because protecting LGBT persons from 
discrimination is a matter of state law, and while some states have 
chosen to enact such protections, other states have declined to do so. 
Another commenter stated that HUD is overstepping its authority by 
defining family in the proposed regulation. The commenter thought this 
could be construed as an infringement on states' rights because the 
Federal Government has primarily left it to the states to make 
determinations regarding the definition of family. Another commenter 
stated that HUD is violating Executive Order 13132 on federalism by 
regulating marriage and housing. According to the commenter, these are 
states' rights issues, as regulation of marriage and housing occur at a 
state level, notwithstanding that the Federal Government provides 
funding for housing.
    Response: HUD's rule is not in violation of the executive order on 
federalism, Executive Order 13132, nor is it regulating marriage. HUD's 
rule only pertains to HUD's housing programs. There is no requirement 
for any multifamily housing owner to participate in HUD's programs or 
for any lender to become an FHA-approved lender. However, if these 
individuals or entities choose to participate, then they must abide by 
the program requirements established by HUD.
Rule Exceeds HUD's Legal Authority
    Comment: A few commenters stated that this rule exceeds HUD's legal 
authority. The commenters stated that making ``sexual orientation'' and 
``gender identity'' protected classifications for purposes of federal 
housing programs has no support in any act of Congress, and that 
forbidding such discrimination undermines the Defense of Marriage Act. 
The commenters stated that HUD should not create new protected 
classifications where there is no statutory policy undergirding it.
    Response: The rule creates additional program requirements to 
ensure equal access of all eligible families to HUD programs, which is 
well within the scope of HUD's authority. HUD's mission is to create 
strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes 
for all. This includes LGBT persons, who have faced difficulty in 
seeking housing. Excluding any eligible person from HUD-funded or HUD-
insured housing because of that person's sexual orientation or gender 
identity contravenes HUD's responsibility under the Department of 
Housing and Urban Development Act to work to address ``the needs and 
interests of the Nation's communities and of the people who live and 
work in them.'' (See 42 U.S.C. 3531.) Congress has repeatedly charged 
the Department with serving the existing housing needs of all 
Americans, including in section 2 of the Housing Act of 1949, 42 U.S.C. 
1441 (``The Congress hereby declares that the general welfare and 
security of the Nation and the health and living standards of its 
people require * * * the realization as soon as feasible the goal of a 
decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family 
* * *''); section 2 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, 
12 U.S.C. 1701t (``The Congress affirms the national goal, as set forth 
in section 2 of the Housing Act of 1949, of `a decent home and a 
suitable living environment for every American family'''); sections 101 
and 102 of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, 42 
U.S.C. 12701-702 (``The Congress affirms the national goal that every 
American family be able to afford a decent home in a suitable 
environment. * * * The objective of national housing policy shall be to 
reaffirm the long-established national commitment to decent, safe, and 
sanitary housing for every American by strengthening a nationwide 
partnership of public and private institutions able * * * to ensure 
that every resident of the United States has access to decent shelter 
or assistance in avoiding homelessness * * * [and] to improve housing 
opportunities for all residents of the United States''); and section 
2(b) of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, 42 U.S.C. 
5301 note (``The purpose of this Act, therefore, is--(1) to reaffirm 
the principle that decent and affordable shelter is a basic necessity, 
and the general welfare of the Nation and the health and living 
standards of its people require the addition of new housing units to 
remedy a serious shortage of housing for all Americans.'')
    Congress has given HUD broad authority to fulfill this mission and 
implement its responsibilities through rulemaking. Section 7(d) of the 
Department of Housing and Urban Development Act specifically states 
that

[[Page 5673]]

the Secretary ``may make such rules and regulations as may be necessary 
to carry out his functions, powers, and duties.''
    HUD does not agree that the Defense of Marriage Act, which relates 
to the definition of marriage, overrides the Department's 
responsibility to ensure that its programs are carried out free from 
discrimination. This rule does not define or otherwise regulate 
marriage. Rather, it seeks to make housing available to LGBT persons 
who might otherwise be denied access to HUD-funded or assisted housing.
Rule Creates Conflict With Religious Freedom
    Comment: A commenter stated that the rule may force faith-based and 
other organizations, as a condition of participating in HUD programs 
and in contravention of their religious beliefs, to support shared 
housing arrangements between persons who are not joined in what the 
commenter referred to as ``the legal union of one man and woman.'' 
Another commenter explained that, while not insisting that any person 
should be denied housing, faith-based and other organizations should 
retain the freedom to make housing placements in a manner consistent 
with their religious beliefs. The commenter further stated that the 
rule, by infringing on religious freedom, may have the ultimate effect 
of driving away faith-based organizations with a long and successful 
track record in meeting housing needs. The commenter concluded that 
given their large role in serving unmet housing needs, it is imperative 
that such faith-based organizations not be required to compromise or 
violate their religious beliefs as a condition of participating in HUD-
assisted housing programs and receiving government funds to carry out 
needed services.
    Other commenters stated that protecting sexual orientation and 
gender identity without provisions for protecting rights of conscience 
and belief results in governmental discrimination favoring one version 
of morality and belief over another. The commenters stated that there 
are many individuals and faith-based organizations who have already 
been penalized for adherence to religious beliefs that will not permit 
them to support same-sex relationships.
    Response: Faith-based organizations have long been involved in HUD 
programs and provide valuable services to low-income populations served 
by HUD. It is HUD's hope that faith-based organizations will continue 
to actively participate in HUD programs. However, the exclusion of an 
individual or family from HUD housing for no reason other than that the 
individual is LGBT or the family has one or more LGBT members is 
inconsistent with HUD's mission to ensure decent housing and a suitable 
living environment for all. Accordingly, it is incumbent on HUD to 
ensure that the regulations governing its housing programs make clear 
that such arbitrary exclusion will not be tolerated.

IV. Findings and Certifications

Regulatory Review--Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Under Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), a 
determination must be made whether a regulatory action is significant 
and, therefore, subject to review by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) in accordance with the requirements of the order. 
Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review) 
directs executive agencies to analyze regulations that are ``outmoded, 
ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, 
streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been 
learned.'' Executive Order 13563 also directs that, where relevant, 
feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives, and to the extent 
permitted by law, agencies are to identify and consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public. A determination was made that this rule is a 
``significant regulatory action,'' as defined in section 3(f) of the 
Order (although not economically significant, as provided in section 
3(f)(1) of the Order). The docket file is available for public 
inspection in the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, 
Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 
10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500. Due to security measures at the HUD 
Headquarters building, please schedule an appointment to review the 
docket file by calling the Regulations Division at (202) 402-3055 (this 
is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing 
impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal 
Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) 
generally requires an agency to conduct a regulatory flexibility 
analysis of any rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking 
requirements, unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
This rule does not impose any new costs, or modify existing costs, 
applicable to HUD grantees. Rather, the purpose of the rule is to 
ensure open access to HUD's core programs, regardless of sexual 
orientation or gender identity. In this rule, HUD affirms the broad 
meaning of ``family'' that is already provided for in HUD programs by 
statute. The only clarification that HUD makes is that a family is a 
family as currently provided in statute and regulation, regardless of 
marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Accordingly, 
the undersigned certifies that this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Environmental Impact

    This rule sets forth nondiscrimination standards. Accordingly, 
under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(3), this rule is categorically excluded from 
environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321).

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    Executive Order 13132 (entitled ``Federalism'') prohibits an agency 
from publishing any rule that has federalism implications if the rule 
either: (i) Imposes substantial direct compliance costs on state and 
local governments and is not required by statute, or (ii) preempts 
state law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding 
requirements of section 6 of the Executive Order. This rule would not 
have federalism implications and would not impose substantial direct 
compliance costs on state and local governments or preempt state law 
within the meaning of the Executive Order.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 
1531-1538) (UMRA) establishes requirements for federal agencies to 
assess the effects of their regulatory actions on state, local, and 
tribal governments, and on the private sector. This rule would not 
impose any federal mandates on any state, local, or tribal governments, 
or on the private sector, within the meaning of the UMRA.

List of Subjects

24 CFR Part 5

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Claims, Drug abuse, 
Drug traffic control, Grant programs--housing and community 
development, Grant programs--Indians, Individuals with disabilities, 
Loan programs--housing and community development,

[[Page 5674]]

Low and moderate income housing, Mortgage insurance, Pets, Public 
housing, Rent subsidies, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

24 CFR Part 200

    Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Equal employment 
opportunity, Fair housing, Home improvement, Housing standards, Lead 
poisoning, Loan programs--housing and community development, Mortgage 
insurance, Organization and functions (Government agencies), Penalties, 
Reporting and recordkeeping.

24 CFR Part 203

    Hawaiian Natives, Home improvement, Indians--lands, Loan programs--
housing and community development, Mortgage insurance, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Solar energy.

24 CFR Part 236

    Grant programs--housing and community development, Low- and 
moderate-income housing, Mortgage insurance, Rent subsidies, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements.

24 CFR Part 570

    Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Community 
development block grants, Grant programs--education, Grant programs--
housing and community development, Guam, Indians, Loan programs--
housing and community development, Low and moderate income housing, 
Northern Mariana Islands, Pacific Islands Trust Territory, Puerto Rico, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Student aid, Virgin Islands.

24 CFR Part 574

    Community facilities, Grant programs--health programs, Grant 
programs--housing and community development, Grant programs--social 
programs, HIV/AIDS, Low and moderate income housing, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

24 CFR Part 891

    Aged, Grant programs--housing and community development, 
Individuals with disabilities, Loan programs--housing and community 
development, Rent subsidies, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

24 CFR Part 982

    Grant programs--housing and community development, Grant programs--
Indians, Indians, Public housing, Rent subsidies, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

    Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, HUD amends 24 CFR parts 
5, 200, 203, 236, 291, 570, 574, and 982, as follows:

PART 5--GENERAL HUD PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS; WAIVERS

0
1. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 5 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 3535(d), unless otherwise noted.

0
2. The heading of subpart A is revised to read as follows:

Subpart A--Generally Applicable Definitions and Requirements; 
Waivers

* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  5.100, definitions for ``family,'' ``gender identity,'' and 
``sexual orientation'' are added to read as follows:


Sec.  5.100  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Family has the meaning provided this term in Sec.  5.403, and 
applies to all HUD programs unless otherwise provided in the 
regulations for a specific HUD program.
* * * * *
    Gender identity means actual or perceived gender-related 
characteristics.
* * * * *
    Sexual orientation means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or 
bisexuality.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  5.105, revise the introductory text, redesignate paragraph 
(a) as paragraph (a)(1), and add paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  5.105  Other Federal Requirements.

    The requirements set forth in this section apply to all HUD 
programs, except as may be otherwise noted in the respective program 
regulations in title 24 of the CFR, or unless inconsistent with 
statutes authorizing certain HUD programs:
    (a) * * *
    (2) Equal access to HUD-assisted or insured housing. (i) 
Eligibility for HUD-assisted or insured housing. A determination of 
eligibility for housing that is assisted by HUD or subject to a 
mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration shall be made in 
accordance with the eligibility requirements provided for such program 
by HUD, and such housing shall be made available without regard to 
actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital 
status.
    (ii) Prohibition of inquiries on sexual orientation or gender 
identity. No owner or administrator of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured 
housing, approved lender in an FHA mortgage insurance program, nor any 
(or any other) recipient or subrecipient of HUD funds may inquire about 
the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or 
occupant of, HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured 
by HUD, whether renter- or owner-occupied, for the purpose of 
determining eligibility for the housing or otherwise making such 
housing available. This prohibition on inquiries regarding sexual 
orientation or gender identity does not prohibit any individual from 
voluntarily self-identifying sexual orientation or gender identity. 
This prohibition on inquiries does not prohibit lawful inquiries of an 
applicant or occupant's sex where the housing provided or to be 
provided to the individual is temporary, emergency shelter that 
involves the sharing of sleeping areas or bathrooms, or inquiries made 
for the purpose of determining the number of bedrooms to which a 
household may be entitled.
* * * * *

Subpart D--Definitions for Section 8 and Public Housing Assistance 
Under the United States Housing Act of 1937

0
5. In Sec.  5.403, the definitions of ``disabled family'', ``elderly 
family'', ``family'', and ``near elderly family'' are revised to read 
as follows:


Sec.  5.403  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Disabled family means a family whose head (including co-head), 
spouse, or sole member is a person with a disability. It may include 
two or more persons with disabilities living together, or one or more 
persons with disabilities living with one or more live-in aides.
* * * * *
    Elderly family means a family whose head (including co-head), 
spouse, or sole member is a person who is at least 62 years of age. It 
may include two or more persons who are at least 62 years of age living 
together, or one or more persons who are at least 62 years of age 
living with one or more live-in aides.
    Family includes, but is not limited to, the following, regardless 
of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital 
status:
    (1) A single person, who may be an elderly person, displaced 
person, disabled person, near-elderly person, or any other single 
person; or
    (2) A group of persons residing together, and such group includes, 
but is not limited to:
    (i) A family with or without children (a child who is temporarily 
away from the home because of placement in foster

[[Page 5675]]

care is considered a member of the family);
    (ii) An elderly family;
    (iii) A near-elderly family;
    (iv) A disabled family;
    (v) A displaced family; and
    (vi) The remaining member of a tenant family.
* * * * *
    Near-elderly family means a family whose head (including co-head), 
spouse, or sole member is a person who is at least 50 years of age but 
below the age of 62; or two or more persons, who are at least 50 years 
of age but below the age of 62, living together; or one or more persons 
who are at least 50 years of age but below the age of 62, living with 
one or more live-in aides.
* * * * *

PART 200--INTRODUCTION TO FHA PROGRAMS

0
6. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 200 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1702-1715z-21; 42 U.S.C. 3535(d).


0
7. In Sec.  200.3, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  200.3  Definitions.

    (a) The definitions ``department'', ``elderly person'', ``family'', 
``HUD'', and ``Secretary'', as used in this subpart A, shall have the 
meanings given these terms in 24 CFR part 5.
* * * * *
0
8. Section 200.300 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  200.300  Nondiscrimination and fair housing policy.

    Federal Housing Administration programs shall be administered in 
accordance with:
    (a) The nondiscrimination and fair housing requirements set forth 
in 24 CFR part 5, including the prohibition on inquiries regarding 
sexual orientation or gender identity set forth in 24 CFR 5.105(a)(2); 
and
    (b) The affirmative fair housing marketing requirements in 24 CFR 
part 200, subpart M and 24 CFR part 108.

PART 203--SINGLE FAMILY MORTGAGE INSURANCE

0
9. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 203 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1709, 1710, 1715b, 1715z-16, and 1715u; 42 
U.S.C. 3535(d).


0
10. In Sec.  203.33, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  203.33  Relationship of income to mortgage payments.

* * * * *
    (b) Determinations of adequacy of mortgagor income under this 
section shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to race, 
color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, handicap, 
marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender 
identity, source of income of the mortgagor, or location of the 
property.

PART 236--MORTGAGE INSURANCE AND INTEREST REDUCTION PAYMENT FOR 
RENTAL PROJECTS

0
11. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 236 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1715b and 1715z-1; 42 U.S.C. 3535(d).


0
12. Section 236.1 is amended by adding a sentence at the end of 
paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  236.1  Applicability, cross-reference, and savings clause.

    (a) Applicability. * * * The definition of ``family'' in 24 CFR 
200.3(a) applies to any refinancing of a mortgage insured under section 
236, or to financing pursuant to section 236(j)(3) of the purchase, by 
a cooperative or nonprofit corporation or association of a project 
assisted under section 236.
* * * * *

PART 570--COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS

0
13. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 570 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 3535(d), and 5301-5320.

Subpart A--General Provisions

0
14. In Sec.  570.3, the definitions of ``family'' and ``household'' are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  570.3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Family refers to the definition of ``family'' in 24 CFR 5.403.
    Household means all persons occupying a housing unit. The occupants 
may be a family, as defined in 24 CFR 5.403; two or more families 
living together; or any other group of related or unrelated persons who 
share living arrangements, regardless of actual or perceived, sexual 
orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
* * * * *

PART 574--HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PERSONS WITH AIDS

0
15. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 574 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 3535(d) and 12901-12912.


0
16. In Sec.  574.3, the definition of ``family'' is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  574.3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Family is defined in 24 CFR 5.403 and includes one or more eligible 
persons living with another person or persons, regardless of actual or 
perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, who 
are determined to be important to the eligible person or person's care 
or well-being, and the surviving member or members of any family 
described in this definition who were living in a unit assisted under 
the HOPWA program with the person with AIDS at the time of his or her 
death.
* * * * *

PART 891--SUPPORTIVE HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY AND PERSONS WITH 
DISABILITIES

0
17. The authority citation for part 891 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1701q; 42 U.S.C. 1437f, 3535(d), and 8013.


0
18. In Sec.  891.105, the definition of ``family'' is added to read as 
follows:


Sec.  891.105  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Family is defined in 24 CFR 5.403.
* * * * *

PART 982--SECTION 8 TENANT-BASED ASSISTANCE: HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER 
PROGRAM

0
19. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 982 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 1437f and 3535(d).


0
20. In Sec.  982.4, remove the colon at the end of paragraph (a) 
subject heading and add a period in its place, revise paragraph (a)(1), 
remove paragraph (a)(2), and redesignate paragraph (a)(3) as paragraph 
(a)(2); and revise the definition of ``family'' in paragraph (b) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  982.4  Definitions.

    (a) Definitions found elsewhere--(1) General definitions. The 
following terms are defined in part 5, subpart A of this title: 1937 
Act, covered person, drug, drug-related criminal activity, federally 
assisted housing, guest, household, HUD, MSA, other person under the 
tenant's control, public housing, Section 8, and violent criminal 
activity.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    Family. A person or group of persons, as determined by the PHA 
consistent

[[Page 5676]]

with 24 CFR 5.403, approved to reside in a unit with assistance under 
the program. See ``family composition'' at Sec.  982.201(c).
* * * * *
0
21. In Sec.  982.201, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  982.201  Eligibility and targeting.

* * * * *
    (c) Family composition. See definition of ``family'' in 24 CFR 
5.403.
* * * * *

    Dated: January 27, 2012.
Shaun Donovan,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2012-2343 Filed 2-2-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4210-67-P