16 Feb Fair Housing Act Protections Officially Extended to LGBTQ Individuals
In 2019, Mississippi Center for Justice Housing Law Attorney William Bedwell received a call from Raciella Edgar, an African American transgendered woman of Cuban descent living in a mobile home park in Gulfport, Mississippi. The property manager had discriminated against Edgar by repeatedly telling her that she should “dress like a man” and threatening her with eviction. A second manager groped her and asked for sex in exchange for rent.
Bedwell filed an administrative complaint with HUD alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act based upon gender, specifically that Edgar was discriminated against based on her gender identity. In December of 2019, Bedwell obtained a conciliated settlement, which required the landlord to pay Edgar $10,000 and allowed her to remain at the property for an additional 45 days, and further required the landlord to undergo Fair Housing training and submit to continued HUD monitoring for one year.
In June of 2020, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court held that employment discrimination provisions prohibiting discrimination based upon sex also prohibited conduct directed at sexual orientation and gender identity. One of President Biden’s first acts upon assuming office was to issue an Executive Order explicitly extending the Bostock holding to HUD administrative determinations in Fair Housing cases (see HUD’s implementation order here).
The Mississippi Center for Justice and Ms. Edgar applaud President Biden for explicitly affirming that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected under the Fair Housing Act’s prohibitions on housing discrimination.