City Is Committed to Protecting Access to Safe Housing for Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ Community

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a rule change to allow federally-funded, single-sex homeless shelters to turn away individuals based on their “biological sex.” HUD’s Equal Access rule requires that all HUD-funded housing services be provided without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Billed as a move to give shelter providers greater autonomy to establish policies that align to their mission, the agency’s proposed change to the Equal Access Rule clearly discriminates against the people those shelters serve, specifically transgender individuals.

We, as city agencies dedicated to protecting and supporting individuals experiencing homelessness and members of our LGBTQ+ community, strongly oppose the rule change. And in this moment, we as a community reassert our commitment to ensuring that all LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing homelessness have equal access to safe shelter and housing.

Deepening the injustice of HUD’s proposed rule change is its timing: amid a global pandemic that is taking a disproportionate toll on already marginalized communities. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment and risk of eviction are at record highs, setting the stage for a spike in homelessness which, as we know, hits the most vulnerable members of our communities the hardest.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community, and transgender individuals in particular, experience homelessness at higher rates than the general population. Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth are more than 100% more likely to report experiencing homelessness than youth who identify as heterosexual and cisgender. And transgender and non-binary adults are much more likely than heterosexual adults to experience unsheltered homelessness, placing them at even greater risk for the violence and abuse that target the transgender community.

HUD’s proposal would reverse the Equal Access Rule and push transgender individuals experiencing homelessness into street homelessness and closer to the margins. The Baltimore City Continuum of Care, the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services and the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs stand together in forcefully denouncing HUD’s proposed rule change. We will not change local policies to align with HUD, but instead fight to ensure equitable access to safe housing for members of Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ community and all persons experiencing homelessness in Baltimore.

For more information on MOHS and how you can support the city’s work to make homelessness rare and brief, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and IG: @baltimoremohs.

Related Stories

"Help give a little warmth this holiday season" on WMAR 2 News

Women at the Pinderhughes Shelter are in need of winter coats. Thank you Stacy, Pinderhughes Director, for launching the coat drive and WMAR 2 News & Kelly Swoope for the coverage.

Baltimore's Continuum of Care Board Elects New Chair and Vice Chair

The Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services (MOHS) would like to congratulate Janice Miller and Shawn Jones on being elected Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of Baltimore’s Continu

Update on Process to Administer 278 Emergency Housing Vouchers

The City of Baltimore is grateful for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the allocation of 278 Emergency Housing Vouchers to combat homelessness in Baltimore. Referrals are not being accepted at this time. We are all committed to developing an equitable system to house our most vulnerable neighbors experiencing homelessness.

Stay tuned for updates from HABC, MOHS, and CoC in July. Thank you for your patience!