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 2019, HUD is considering changes that would alter the protections offered under the final 2016 Equal Access Rule. Despite this harmful proposal, the current rule is still in full effect, and communities are expected to comply with it. The proposed rule, however, is not yet introduced into the Federal Register; HUD is considering doing so, but may or may not introduce the proposed changes.
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:
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)