"There is no need to force shelters to violate their faith or impose a blanket federal policy that forces vulnerable women to share space with men who claim a female identity," said Anderson. "Some of the faith-based organizations we've represented in court have faced hostility-and even the threat of closure-by government officials who disagree with their religious beliefs. That's why we are glad HUD is proposing a rule that at least returns this issue to local control and otherwise lets shelters set their own admissions policies to carry out their mission."
The rule retains the HUD 2012 "equal access" rule, which mandated that homeless shelters be "open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status."
The 2012 rule left room for single-sex shelters to deny housing to transgender clients. A 2016 study conducted by the Center for American Progress found that only 30% of female homeless shelters were willing to house biological males.
The ambiguity regarding the treatment of transgender and non-gender conforming clients prompted a 2016 rule, which required shelters to serve transgender people – even if their biological sex does not align with the rest of the shelter's residents.
As evidence of unfair discrimination against transgender homeless people, the 2016 rule cited a report by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness which stated that many transgender people face "dangerous conditions" in shelters that align with their biological sex. The report said that given the choice between a single-sex shelter that serves their biological sex or the streets, "many transgender shelter-seekers would choose the streets."
In light of the safety and discrimination concerns for transgender people in shelters that align with their biological sex, the 2016 rule mandated that "In no case may a provider's policies isolate or segregate transgender or gender nonconforming occupants."