Date Published: July 2014
The Equal Access Rule defines family as follows:
Family includes, but is not limited to, regardless of marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity, the following:
In general, this definition of “family” applies to both the ESG and CoC Program rules. However, the McKinney-Vento Act, as amended by the HEARTH Act, distinguishes individuals from families. Therefore, paragraph (1) of the definition of family under the Equal Access Rule is considered an individual under the CoC and ESG programs and the definition of family for these programs is defined as follows:
Family includes, but is not limited to, regardless of marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity, any group of persons presenting for assistance together with or without children and irrespective of age, relationship, or whether or not a member of the household has a disability. A child who is temporarily away from the home because of placement in foster care is considered a member of the family.
What this means is that any group of people that present together for assistance and identify themselves as a family, regardless of age or relationship or other factors, are considered to be a family and must be served together as such. Further, a recipient or subrecipient receiving funds under the ESG or CoC Programs cannot discriminate against a group of people presenting as a family based on the composition of the family (e.g., adults and children or just adults), the age of any member’s family, the disability status of any members of the family, marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Here are two examples of how this might apply:
In this example, the emergency shelter or housing program would not be required to serve families composed of only adult members and could deny access to these types of families provided that all adult-only families are treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity.
This policy applies to any recipient and subrecipient of funding under ESG or the CoC Program, including faith-based organizations that accept funds through these programs.
All recipients and subrecipients are encouraged to review their current policies and procedures to ensure that they are compliant with this rule.