April 6, 2017

Community Developments: Federal Judge Approves LGBT Fair Housing Protections

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  • On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that federal fair housing laws protect LGBT people from discrimination. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or sell housing to anyone because of “sex, familial status or national origin,” but it says nothing about sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the first time a federal judge has ruled that LGBT people are a protected group under the law. A day earlier, a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit extended the protection of federal employment discrimination law (Title VII) to LGBT people on the same basis, ruling that sexual stereotyping is a form of sex discrimination. (The Washington Post, April 6)
  • In honor of Tuesday’s “Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service,” Enterprise highlights the important work of the Resilience AmeriCorps program and its VISTA members. Resilience AmeriCorps recruits and trains VISTA members to increase resilience-building capacity in low-income communities across the country. Enterprise began a partnership with the program last year and is currently hosting 15 VISTA members to support our programmatic work in urban, rural and tribal communities. The Trump Administration has proposed deep cuts to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps and other critical programs. Such budget cuts would severely limit the capacity of these programs, affecting the communities they reach. Learn more about Enterprise’s partnership with the Resilience AmeriCorps program in our blog post.
  • As part of the “Vouchers Work” blog series, Peggy Baily from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) writes about how providing supportive housing (mainly through using housing vouchers) to vulnerable individuals has helped reduce homelessness and health costs for individuals who are high utilizers of hospital care. In Chicago alone, supportive housing has reduced costs for this group by $6,000 per person per year. Studies also show that local supportive housing programs keep at least 75 percent of those who enter supportive housing from returning to homelessness. In addition, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which pairs vouchers with VA-provided services, contributed to a 47 percent drop in veterans’ homelessness between 2010 and 2016. (CBPP, April 4)
  • An article in Multi-Housing News discusses the importance of helping developers understand the benefits of investing in energy efficiency. “For a builder or developer who has never invested in energy efficiency before, there’s a challenge of learning what standards you should shoot for and what strategies you should implement,” said Krista Egger, director of initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners. She also notes that since the Enterprise Green Communities certification program was launched in 2004, affordable housing developers have widely adopted energy efficiency, largely due to their interest in ensuring that affordable housing is healthy and also affordable to operate over the long-term. (Multi-Housing News, April 6)
  • A recent poll of registered voters by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that 75 percent of respondents support reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program that would improve communities’ preparedness and reduce recovery costs. The proposed reforms include a single, national standard to disclose property flood risk, local action to reduce flood risk in communities with repeatedly flooded properties, a requirement that all federally funded infrastructure in flood-prone areas be constructed to better withstand the impacts of flooding, and prioritizing FEMA buyouts of repeatedly flooded homes in environmentally sensitive areas. (The Pew Charitable Trust, April 5)

In Case You Missed It

  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter that asks appropriators to increase the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) unit cap and provide $50 million for the program in fiscal year 2018. Enterprise encourages affordable housing advocates and organizations to urge Senators to sign on to the RAD Dear Colleague letter as soon as possible. Senator Gillibrand’s office is still accepting signatures, despite the April 4 deadline.

  For the latest housing and community development news and notes, follow the Enterprise policy team on Twitter: @E_Housing Policy and subscribe to the Capitol Express Newsletter. The Enterprise Public Policy team works to safeguard, expand and improve programs that end housing insecurity. Learn more about our public policy efforts.