Interfaith Works Rejects
HUD Proposed Rules Changes
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) recent action to remove protections for transgender people experiencing homelessness or housing instability is blatantly discriminatory and will deny many homeless individuals the shelter they need and deserve. The 2016 Equal Access Rule required recipients of HUD Community Planning and Development programs to grant access to shelter and housing in accordance with a person’s gender identity. HUD’s proposed change to this rule allows service providers to base access to services solely on the provider’s perception of a person’s gender. This action compromises the ability of transgender individuals to seek shelter and compromises their safety solely on the basis of the provider’s personal opinions or religious beliefs. Thus, the new rule is discriminatory, unfair, and inappropriate, and Interfaith Works objects strongly to these rule changes.
The Equal Access Rule’s protections against discrimination are critical to ensure safe access to shelter for all individuals. Protecting transgender people’s access to gender-specific facilities does not endanger the safety or privacy of others, so there is no justification for singling them out for special treatment. Shelters are often a person’s best access point to programs and provide safe, individual housing, a critical need during a global pandemic that endangers anyone who is forced to share living spaces with others. Interfaith Works’ Director Homeless Services, Christine Hong, cautioned “these and other recent actions are major steps backwards from racial equity and for the trans population that experiences homelessness at a disproportionately high rate.”
The HUD proposal would put transgender people directly in harm’s way, further setting back our work to end homelessness.
Standing in Solidarity Against Racial Injustice
We are outraged at the Black lives lost to violent systemic racism in our country. We grieve for the families of those who have lost their lives recently—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Finan Berhe, Ahmaud Arbery—and so many others whose deaths attracted less attention but were no less tragic. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than White people. As a diverse organization of people helping the most vulnerable in our Montgomery County community, Interfaith Works stands with our Black neighbors who know only too well inequity, mistreatment, threats, and violence based solely upon the color of their skin. We see the impact of systemic racism in our work with people experiencing homelessness. We see the trauma and poor health outcomes racism causes. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial disparities in health and poverty. For the sake of our community and our country, permanent change must happen NOW.
The absence of leadership, of empathy, of any support from the federal administration is sickening. The clearing of peaceful protestors by force and the appropriation of a place of worship for political gain are abhorrent. As an organization whose mission is to end homelessness and poverty, addressing racial inequalities is necessary. As such, we support peaceful action for systemic change and condemn the violence directed at those who are exercising their constitutional right to make their voices heard.
We encourage you to learn, to act, and to engage. Let us work together towards a more perfect union where one need not fear for their life because they have black or brown skin.
We all face hurdles but the obstacles created by poverty can be overwhelming. Together we can give a powerful voice to our neighbors in need by helping Montgomery County communities move toward a common vision of social justice and developing broader participation in the policy making process. Your support of Interfaith Works will make this goal achievable and create a future without poverty.