HOPWA in Focus: Pride Month 2022
This letter from Rita Harcrow, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS Housing, was originally distributed via HUD.gov. HUD Exchange is redistributing the information for awareness.
Dear HOPWA Grantees, Project Sponsors, and Friends,
This June, HUD’s Office of HIV/AIDS Housing (OHH) is recognizing LGBTQ+ Pride Month. We are reflecting on the disproportionate impact that HIV has had on the LGBTQ+ community and the stigma and discrimination that continue to inhibit this community’s access to safe and stable housing. We are also celebrating the advances that have been made in protections for LGBTQ+ populations since the Stonewall uprising that gave way to the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
There have been several key wins recently at the federal government level for LGBTQ+ equity. Most recently, Executive Order 14075 - Advancing Equality for LGBTQI+ Individuals, signed this Pride Month, takes bold action in a wide variety of support areas to continue the fight for full equality for every American regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Another milestone is Executive Order 13988 - Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, which directs all federal government agencies to develop plans that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, health care, education, and many other areas. This Executive Order implements the Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court decision by fully enforcing laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This implementation has been realized at HUD through the recent expansion of the Fair Housing Act to provide legal protections that prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Over the past year, OHH has prioritized increasing LGBTQ+ equity in the HOPWA program. In our recent Housing as an Intervention to Fight AIDS (HIFA) funding opportunity, OHH made available $41 million to support innovative projects nationwide that are helping to end the HIV epidemic. Several HIFA grantees will implement projects specifically focused on serving LGBTQ+ populations who are disproportionately impacted by HIV. HIFA grantee Chicago House and Social Service Agency in Chicago, IL, will be providing housing, medical care, and supportive services to 110 trans women of color with HIV using an innovative rapid rehousing program model. Another HIFA grantee, Abounding Prosperity, Inc. in Dallas, TX, will be providing housing and supportive services for 68 LGBTQ+ youth of color annually through both tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) and short-term rent, mortgage, and utilities (STRMU) support.
OHH is also undertaking a racial, gender, and LGBTQ+ equity initiative in collaboration with technical assistance (TA) providers, led by Collaborative Solutions. The desired outcome of the initiative is to have HOPWA programs provide services using an equity lens, ensuring that Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), Women, and LGBTQ+, have unfettered access to housing and services. Seven HOPWA grantee communities have volunteered to participate in the planning and piloting of the initiative. In addition, TA providers and grantees have identified and brought on people with lived experience to be equal partners in initiative planning and development.
We commit to continue incorporating actions that are inclusive and equitable to the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year. We encourage HOPWA providers and stakeholders to also consider ways you can recognize Pride month and examine ways to be more inclusive and equitable to the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year. In addition to attending Pride celebrations in your community, here are some big and small suggestions for you to take action.
- Be a part of the progress towards equality for the LGBTQ+ community. Use the protections and advances included in recent Executive Orders and make sure others are too. And if those advances and protections don’t go far enough, use your voice to identify the challenges and barriers impacting the LGBTQ+ community. There is a role for everyone in making sure progress is realized, and allies play an important too. Ally is defined as someone who helps and supports other people who are part of a group that is treated badly or unfairly, although they are not themselves a member. We encourage you to educate yourself and get involved.
- Partner with local LGBTQ+ organizations. Partnership between HOPWA providers and LGBTQ+ organizations can be mutually beneficial by providing referrals between organizations, sharing knowledge and training on subject matter expertise, and opening up resources to community members in need of assistance.
- Provide an annual cultural competency training opportunity for staff at your organization to be aware, understand, and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and mores that differ across cultures and communities.
- Review your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure they are aligned with the Equal Access Rule. The Equal Access Rule was reaffirmed in Spring 2021 and ensures that all individuals have equal access to HUD programs, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. For more information on the Equal Access Rule, check out this HOPWA In Focus message from last year.
- Take steps to begin establishing your organization as a safe space for LGBTQ+ staff members and clients.
- Share your gender pronouns in your email signature and introductions. Typical gender pronouns are “she” or “him” or “they”. Pronouns help to identify people instead of just using that person’s name and most of us use them in our daily life. We often assume someone’s pronouns based on how they appear or from their name, which can be problematic because our interpretation may not align with how they identify. Our best course of action is to introduce ourselves by our name and our pronouns.
- Use the HOPWA Pride Logo. In observance of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, OHH is making available a special edition HOPWA Pride logo for HOPWA grantees and project sponsors to use throughout June. Download the HOPWA Pride Logo here.
HUD’s Office of HIV/AIDS Housing is committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and working to increase equitable access to all HUD-assisted housing among this population, who are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic. As always, thank you for your continued support of the HOPWA program and ending the HIV epidemic. Happy Pride month!
Rita Harcrow (she/her)
Director, Office of HIV/AIDS Housing
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