Updated April, 2021
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled “Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs” (commonly known as the “Equal Access Rule”), which provided guidance to further ensure equal access to individuals in accordance with their gender identity in programs and shelter funded under Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD)-administered programs. It requires recipients of funding from HUD’s CPD funding, as well as owners, operators, and managers of shelters, and other facilities and providers of services funded by any CPD program, to grant equal access to such facilities and services in accordance with an individual’s gender identity, and in a manner that affords equal access to the individual’s family.
The 2016 Equal Access Rule, updated from its 2012 iteration, was very explicit in its mandate that access to shelter and housing must conform with, and adhere to, an individual’s self expressed gender identity. It builds upon HUD’s 2012 “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” rule, which concluded that further research was needed on how best to accommodate transgender and gender non-conforming people when there are shared sleeping quarters or bathing facilities.
In July 2020, HUD entered proposed changes into the Federal Register to roll back the 2016 protections of the Equal Access Rule.
In April, 2021, HUD withdrew these harmful proposed changes, stating that, “This action reaffirms HUD’s mission and commitment to creating inclusive communities and quality housing for all. Excluding any eligible person from HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development funded emergency shelters, temporary housing, buildings, housing, or programs because of a person’s gender identity is counter to HUD’s mission.”
The following resources are intended to help providers have a better understanding of the Equal Access Rule, and how to ensure that they are compliant with it:
- Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Homelessness
- Transgender Homeless Adults & Unsheltered Homelessness: What the Data Tell Us
- Data Snapshot: Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals Experience Unsheltered Homelessness at Higher Rates
- Increases in Individual Homelessness: A Gender Analysis
- Changes to HUD’s Equal Access Rule Could Exclude More Transgender People From Shelter
- Making Shelter Safe for Transgender Individuals
- HUD Resource—Equal Access for Transgender People
- HUD Resource—Equal Access Decision Tree
- HUD Resource—Equal Access Training Scenarios
- Supporting Homeless Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
- Equal Access for Transgender People: Supporting Inclusive Housing and Shelters
- Supporting Equal Access Across the Full Spectrum of Services
- Training Scenario: Equal Access Expectations
- HUD’s Equal Access Rule: What it Is, What’s Changed, and What You Need to Know (webinar)