Quigley Challenges HUD Secretary Over Failure to Protect LGBT Youth
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as Vice Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus and Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing, pressed U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson over his Department’s longstanding failure to review LGBT nondiscrimination guidance documents, which the Department removed from their website in early 2017 and formally declined to reinstate on March 6, 2019. These resource documents were aimed at helping emergency homeless shelters and other housing providers comply with HUD nondiscrimination policies for LGBT service recipients.
Language in the Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Act required HUD to expedite its review and issue a formal decision by September 2018. However, HUD failed to issue a determination until March 2019 when HUD chose not to republish this critical guidance. Today, Secretary Carson was unable to provide an explanation for why HUD chose not to republish the guidance and implied that if the Department were to do so, it may allow shelters to discriminate against LGBT youth. Quigley’s exchange with Carson took place during a hearing held by the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
Video of Quigley’s questioning of Carson is available here and a transcription has been provided below.
QUIGLEY: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Carson, for being here and thank you for coming to Chicago. We appreciate your meeting with the LGBTQ individuals and community in Chicago about the non-discrimination guidance. And I appreciate your listening, but I'm obviously very disappointed that HUD's decision communicated to me via the March 6th letter from one of your deputies that the Department will not be replacing the guidance it took down shortly after you took over at HUD.
For the community, this decision hurts. Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Put another way, LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to become homeless and far more likely to be discriminated against at shelters. So that's frustrating. Despite this decision, a relevant HUD rule from 2012 and a regulation from 2016, they remain in effect. So, how will these grantees comply with the regs without this guidance, sir?
CARSON: Well, in fact, the guidance was pretty much obliterated by the '12-'16 rule, and we've gone back and studied it very carefully and concluded that putting that sub-regulatory guidance there actually confused the issue and made a lot more regulations necessary. And we're trying to simplify things. We have not removed the rules. We have not changed the rules at all.
QUIGLEY: But without- Sir, you, in Chicago, asked a question about the difficulty for, for example, a front desk worker who was handed identification that doesn't match the presenting gender of the bearer- the presenting gender of the bearer. That was the question you asked. I want to make sure I got it right. And the response was, "That's why you need the guidance." The grantees need this guidance to avoid the discrimination and to make clear to them what the rules are. And there are no inconsistencies there.
In addition to that, HUD missed, by almost six months, a deadline that was in the Appropriations
report to review the guidance you took down. So, you didn't meet the deadline, and you just simply decided not to put the guidance up. And if anything is confusing, wouldn't working on the guidance help resolve what you are saying is confusion?
CARSON: Well, the agreement was that the guidelines would be reviewed. It wasn't that they would be put back up. And they were reviewed, and it was concluded that the ’16- the 2016 rules obliterated the guidance that was there and confused the issue. The rules stand as they are. We have not made any attempt to change them.
QUIGLEY: Well, and that has incredibly confused this issue even further, sir, your answer today. So, why don't we start over?
QUIGLEY: Put- Regardless of how HUD in D.C. view this, across the country, people are being discriminated against. And they're falling victim to crime and all the other issues that come with being homeless and not being able to get into a shelter. So, despite the fact that I wholly disagree with you that 2016 obliterates anything, there is still a lack of guidance.
So, if all you're doing is drawing guidance from 2012 and trying to clarify 2016, doesn't it make sense to create new guidance and post that, so the grantees know? And that the youth of this country know that they have rights and that they can't be discriminated against?
CARSON: From my conversations with many legal experts throughout government, my suspicion is that you would probably dislike the sub-regulatory guidance that would be put up. And that this provides you with considerably more freedom.
QUIGLEY: Are you suggesting that doing nothing provides greater protection? By putting no guidance up on the website is providing this?
CARSON: I'm suggesting that you might not like the sub-regulatory guidance that was put up.
QUIGLEY: And why is that? I'm a glutton for punishment, sir.
CARSON: Because you probably wouldn't agree with it.
QUIGLEY: Because it goes along with allowing people to discriminate against LGBTQ youth?
CARSON: The rules that are there allow people to have a non-discriminatory atmosphere and that's what we are trying to achieve.
QUIGLEY: So, if it says you can't have a discriminatory atmosphere, why don't you have guidance that posts that and instructs them not to discriminate?
CARSON: The rules already say that.
QUIGLEY: Well, where’s the- even if we go around and around- where's the guidance for that?
CARSON: If you have a rule that tells you what to do, you don't need more guidance on that.
QUIGLEY: Alright, we are all now more stupid than we were when we came in the room today, sir. Thank you.