WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, along with Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, introduced the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act. The HOME Act (H.R. 6500) modernizes the federal Fair Housing Act in several important ways, including extending federal civil rights protections to people based upon their sexual orientation, gender identity, or source of income. The National Fair Housing Alliance has endorsed the bill and applauds Congressman Nadler for his insight and initiative.
Source: National Fair Housing Alliance
"Housing discrimination runs counter to the American spirit of opportunity, and instead is part of America's dark history of senseless exclusion," said NFHA President and CEO Shanna L. Smith. "This bill takes the long needed step of ensuring that housing providers can not reject people or subject them to discriminatory treatment because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or legal source of income. Housing providers can and must only use pertinent factors such as rental history or financial qualifications to make decisions about home seekers."
Since 1968, the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, has protected people living in America from housing discrimination. Currently, the Fair Housing Act promotes residential diversity and makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status.
Yet, the Act does not extend protections to LGBT people, who often face harassment and violence from housing providers and neighbors or home seekers who intend to pay for housing with government assistance. In the absence of federal prohibitions, landlords, real estate agents and mortgage lenders may offer housing on discriminatory terms to LGBT individuals, and landlords may blatantly refuse to rent to people seeking to pay for housing with veteran benefits, government-issued vouchers or social security.
Many state and local governments have already taken steps to outlaw such discrimination: 12 states and the District of Columbia outlaw discrimination based on source of income; 20 states and DC prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and 14 states and DC prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
"I applaud Chairman Nadler for his insight and initiative," said Smith. "These long-needed changes to the Fair Housing Act will improve our neighborhoods and expand important civil rights to so many people who are currently left out."
In addition to protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and source of income, the bill would do the following: add protections based on marital status; reinforce existing protections for people who are discriminated against after they have already rented or purchased a home; allow the public to hold municipalities accountable for failing to advance fair housing laws; update the definition of "familial status" – a currently federally protected class that prevents discrimination against families with children. to be more inclusive of more family types; improve the Department of Justice's ability to investigate potential fair housing and fair lending violations; and clarify and strengthen protections for people with disabilities.
Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Fair Housing Alliance, through comprehensive education, advocacy and enforcement programs, provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans and insurance policies for all residents of the nation.