HUD’s Equal Access Rule

August 12, 2019  |  Publications

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. 

Current Status

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: 

View the Alliance’s statement on proposed changes to the Equal Access Rule here