On October 29, 2019, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to explore the issue of lending and housing discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. A recording of the hearing is available here.
Six witnesses offered testimony and responded to questions posed by subcommittee members:
- Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy, National Center for Transgender Equality
- Michael Adams, Chief Executive Officer, SAGE
- Dr. Kerith Conron, Research Director, Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law
- Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign
- Professor Hua Sun, Associate Professor of Finance, Iowa State University
- Francis Creighton, President and CEO, CDIA
The witnesses presented testimony on the evidence of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in seeking shelter, housing, or loans to purchase a home. Professor Sun discussed his recently published paper looking at trends in mortgage lending to same-sex borrowers, which found that same-sex borrowers were more likely to be denied a loan, and paid higher interest and fees on loans when they were approved. The data also showed that same-sex borrowers are equally likely to default and less likely to prepay a mortgage loan, providing evidence that same-sex borrowers are less risky for lenders overall as compared to opposite-sex borrowers.
Many of the witnesses discussed HUD’s proposed modifications to the Equal Access Rule, and encouraged the passage of the Equality Act (H.R.5/S.788), which expands public accommodation protections to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equal Access Rule was published by HUD in September 2016 and ensures equal access to individuals in accordance with their gender identity in shelters funded under programs administered by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development. On May 22, 2019, HUD published a notice of proposed rulemaking to modify that rule, which would allow shelter providers to consider an individual’s sex for the purposes of determining accommodation.
Witnesses also discussed current practices for the collection and reporting of gender data on consumers, and suggestions for improvements. Currently, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requires reporting of gender data, and Dr. Conron and Professor Sun opined that the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau be expanded to collect gender data.
Subcommittee Chairman Al Green discussed his proposed solution to combat intentional discrimination against LGBTQ+ populations, the Fair Lending for All Act, H.R. 166. This bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act as classes protected against discrimination with respect to credit transactions, and would establish criminal penalties for intentional violations of prohibited credit discrimination. The bill also proposes to establish an Office of Fair Lending Testing within the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to test for compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.