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Feds Start New Anti-Bias Housing Regulations

March 21, 2012

DENVER - New federal regulations are designed to protect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community from housing discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is offering protections similar to the race and religion protections in the Fair Housing Act in federally funded housing projects or federally backed mortgages.

Carlos Martinez has seen firsthand how discrimination can affect this population as head of the GLBT Community Center. He says the center gets calls every month from people refused housing because of sexual orientation. He recalls one case in which a woman and her son were forced to move out of an apartment when the woman became the partner of another woman.

"She goes, 'I remember through this whole process my son saying to me, Mommy, why are they throwing us out? We haven't done anything wrong.' "

Rick Garcia is the HUD Regional Director based in Colorado.

"They cannot prevent a member of the GLBT community that they perceive would be an inappropriate resident to occupy housing from, in fact, occupying that housing unit. That's a big step for us as a department, to move in this direction."

Martinez says this sort of federal action can lead to a larger societal acceptance of the GLBT community.

"These are baby steps that go towards that. So, I think what HUD is also doing is coming out and saying these are best practices."

Colorado's laws have prohibited housing discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2008, but Martinez thinks the new federal rules will offer another layer of protections, and will increase awareness about housing discrimination.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO