Representative Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY, NY-10) is taking steps to extend civil rights protections to individuals who may be discriminated against when they purchase or rent a home, or enter most public facilities. The Housing Nondiscrimination Act of 2010 (HNDA) was introduced today by Rep. Towns who has long been a champion of ending discrimination against all individuals.
"Any form of discrimination is unacceptable -- particularly when it affects a person's ability to move into a home or restricts their access to a public facility," said Rep. Towns. "We need to expand this critical civil rights protection for all individuals nationwide who risk being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Specifically, HNDA (H.R. 4828) prohibits discrimination in the sale or rent of housing, and in public accommodations, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Together with the late Rep. Ted Weiss (D-NY), Rep. Towns pushed this issue forward. Rep. Towns continued to champion this cause after Rep. Weiss' died suddenly in 1992 after suffering a heart attack.
Only 17 states currently prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including New York State. Without these civil rights protections, it is not firmly illegal to deny housing to families and individuals, simply based on personal bias. Such discrimination against LGBT individuals can result in inadequate living conditions or homelessness, and in some cases, can make an individual more vulnerable to drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, and suicide.
A study conducted in 2009 by the Empire State Pride Agenda found that a large number of individuals in the LGBT community who had been homeless at one point may be in part due to discrimination in the housing market. HUD is currently conducting the first nationwide study to determine occurrences of discrimination.