Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is more commonly known as the Fair Housing Act. It prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and gender when it comes to the sale, rental or financing of housing. In 1988, it was amended to protect people with disabilities and families with children. But, the Fair Housing Act still allows for discrimination in cases of sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s why more than twenty states have adopted their own Fair Housing laws that include additional protected categories. Many include provisions that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, source of income, and veteran status; however, North Carolina’s does not. But, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, has mandated equal public housing to all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or marriage status. As Jack Holtzman, an attorney with the Fair Housing Project, explains, this means that technically, North Carolina’s LGTBQ tenants are protected only if they happen to be seeking subsidized housing.
"Well, unfortunately, in North Carolina, under our state Fair Housing Act, and under the Federal Fair Housing Act, discrimination strictly upon sexual orientation—assuming that there is no other basis for the landlord’s activities—that by itself would not violate the Fair housing Act."
Because the Federal Fair Housing Act does protect against gender discrimination, Holtzman says landlords cannot legally discriminate based on a tenants’ perceived level of masculinity or femininity. He says this is why housing discrimination incidents need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.
***The Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina has a toll-free number for individuals who feel they're victims of housing discrimination: (855)797-3247