HUD Protects Women in Shelters

Jun 24, 2019

The Trump administration has proposed a rule that will help protect vulnerable women and children by allowing federally funded homeless shelters to consider a range of factors including biological sex in deciding whether to provide lodging to people. The rule will become final on July 22, 2019.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rule would permit shelters that have facilities, like bathrooms and sleeping quarters separated by biological sex, to establish policy that considers “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs, any relevant considerations under civil rights and nondiscrimination authorities, the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents, as well as the gender which a person identifies with” before allowing accommodation or admission to the facility. 

The change was needed because the 2016 Equal Access Rule under the Obama administration mandates that federally funded single-sex homeless shelters admit residents based on their stated gender identity instead of their biological sex. This does not allow shelter providers to make decisions about potentially dangerous individuals who may intentionally misrepresent their gender for malicious reasons.

The rule will also provide flexibility for faith-based shelter providers, saying the current rule might discourage them from seeking HUD funding because of their religious beliefs.

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