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Mayor Keller Statement on Proposed HUD Rule Discriminating Against Transgender Individuals

Aug. 21, 2020

Mayor Tim Keller issued the following statement today denouncing an attempt by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assign homeless people to beds based on biological sex rather than gender identity. The City’s Family and Community Services Department, which works closely with many homeless shelters, sent a letter to shelter operators that clarified state and local anti-discrimination laws prohibit such discrimination.

“Albuquerque won’t stand for discrimination against members of the trans community. The last thing people struggling with homelessness need is to be kicked while their down. While we hope that’s not the point of this proposed rule, but that is its effect.” said Mayor Keller. “Our City has notified shelters that they must not discriminate against transgender individuals.”

Albuquerque’s Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination. This blatant attack on the LGBTQ community comes at a time when the federal eviction moratorium expired, putting many individuals impacted by the pandemic at risk of experiencing homelessness. The rule would exacerbate the daily difficulties trans members of our community face and compound the harm caused by negligent public health policies.

By attempting to undo an Obama-era provision in the Equal Access Rule which protects transgender individuals from discrimination at homeless shelters, the Trump administration further perpetuates the false narrative that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are dangerous. In reality, the transgender community is at risk of experiencing harassment, violence and discrimination at significantly higher rates than the general public. According to a Williams Institute study, nearly a third of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals experience homelessness in their lifetimes.

“Pushing these members of our community back onto the streets would put them at greater risk of harm and pass the responsibility for their safety onto the Albuquerque Police Department and first responders,” said Michelle Melendez, Office of Equity and Inclusion Director. “In the City of Albuquerque, we are all better off when everyone has a safe place to sleep at night.”

“The rule change, if implemented, is a violation of the provisions of the Human Rights Ordinance which prohibits discrimination. Albuquerque is a proudly inclusive and compassionate city. Mayor Keller, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the Office of Civil Rights stand together to denounce this rule and oppose all forms of discrimination, especially against the most vulnerable,” said Torri Jacobus, Director of the Office of Civil Rights.