Washington D.C. — On January 2nd, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a settlement agreement in a claim it brought against Bank of America for discriminating against a lesbian couple applying for a federally insured mortgage loan. This settlement marks HUD’s first enforcement action taken under its recently enacted LGBT Equal Access Rule.
The rule, which represents one of the most significant federal non-discrimination efforts ever taken on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, went into effect on March 5, 2012. It prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in public housing and HUD’s core housing programs, including eligibility determinations for mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). NCLR worked closely with HUD in the development of this rule, and has continued to partner with HUD on implementation of and education about the rule.
HUD brought the claim alleging that Bank of America’s denial of an FHA-insured mortgage loan from an otherwise eligible Florida lesbian couple because they were not married constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status. The agreement requires Bank of America to pay a fine of $7,500 and to notify its residential mortgage loan originators, processors and underwriters of the settlement agreement. Moreover, it requires Bank of America to take steps to re-train its employees that the Equal Access Rule prohibits discrimination against applicants based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.
Statement by NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.:
“Today’s announcement is a turning point for the LGBT community in its fight for equal access to fair and affordable housing. This settlement agreement shows how serious HUD is about working to ensure all people and their families can access public housing and crucial housing programs.
We congratulate Assistant Secretary John Trasviña and his staff on this important victory, and we look forward to continuing to work with HUD on its efforts on behalf of the LGBT community. We hope to work with entities like Bank of America as they bring their policies into compliance with the LGBT Equal Access Rule and train their staff to serve the LGBT community.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org.