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Dear HUD; Love, Senators

In a letter to Secretary Ben Carson, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) along with 28 U.S. senators advocated that the resources protecting LGBTQ people from housing discrimination need to be reinstated after their recent removal from HUD’s website.

“It is concerning that HUD apparently removed these tools from its website, which are meant to assist grantees in meeting their underlying obligations under the law,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Without these training resources, housing service providers will face additional challenges in trying to understand how best to meet the needs of their clients. The guidance resources that were withdrawn or removed are critical to ensuring nondiscrimination rules are fully and faithfully implemented.”

According to the letter, to percent of all youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ and one in three transgender people report having experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. A study also found that only 30 percent of shelters were willing to properly accommodate transgender women. This is concerning to the senators because HUD has withdrawn a proposed policy that would require emergency shelters funded by HUD to hang a poster alerting residents of their right to be free from anti-LGBTQ discrimination and a proposed survey evaluating the impact of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative.

Additionally, the senators explained that HUD has removed four items from their website. A guide instructing HUD grantees on how to ensure equal access for transgender people, a self-assessment tool that allows shelters to evaluate how well they are doing in ensuring compliance with anti-discrimination regulations and best practices, a “decision tree” guiding shelters on how well their engagement, assessment, referral, enrollment, bed assignment, and ongoing service provision practices were providing equal access to LGBTQ people, and training scenarios that help instruct providers on how to best deal with real-life situations that may arise in a manner that ensures equal protection.

The letter cited a quote from Carson at a House and Senate hearing when he said, “the only reason that [HUD] would remove anything is to look at it and determine whether it is effective” and that HUD “want[s] to make decisions based on real evidence and facts.” Based on that quote, the senators are asking Carson to, “review the actions and describe precisely what evidence and facts justify these actions, and act promptly to restore resources to HUD’s website guiding providers on how to fulfill their nondiscrimination requirements under law.”

About Author: Brianna Gilpin

Brianna Gilpin, Online Editor for MReport and DS News, is a graduate of Texas A&M University where she received her B.A. in Telecommunication Media Studies. Gilpin previously worked at Hearst Media, one of the nation's leading diversified media and information services companies. To contact Gilpin, email brianna.gilpin@thefivestar.com.
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