HUD Archives: News Releases
Brian Sullivan (202) 708-0685
December 12, 2002
BUSH ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES TO END "REGULATORY DISCRIMINATION"
AGAINST FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS IN HUD PROGRAMS
Revised regulations will level the playing field for faith-based groups serving
PHILADELPHIA - President Bush today proposed an end to federal
regulations that unnecessarily limit religious organizations' access to grant
programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Bush
told 1,500 faith-based leaders in Philadelphia that his proposal is designed
to place them on an equal footing with other community-based organizations that
serve low-income Americans and revitalize distressed neighborhoods.
"An organization's faith should not be the yardstick we use to measure
its ability to serve families and communities," said HUD Secretary Mel
Martinez. "President Bush is making it abundantly clear he intends to end
this form of regulatory discrimination so we can focus on which organizations
can most effectively provide housing and services to those who need them most."
The proposed rule announced today would remove unwarranted barriers to the
equal participation of faith-based organizations in HUD's programs. The objective
is to ensure that HUD programs do not discriminate and are open to all qualified
applicants, regardless of their religious affiliation. The proposed rule would
amend the regulations for the following HUD programs: Community Development
Block Grant (CDBG) program; HOME Investment Partnerships program; Hope for Homeownership
of Single-Family Homes; Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA);
Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program; Shelter Plus Care; Supportive Housing;
The proposed rule would:
- Promote Participation. The revisions would make certain that qualifying
organizations are eligible to participate in HUD programs without regard to
their religious character or affiliation.
- Clarify Religious Activity. The proposed rule would make it clear that
participating organizations may not use HUD funds to support inherently religious
activities such as worship, religious instruction or proselytizing. In addition,
the new rule would clarify that HUD funds may not be used for the acquisition,
construction or rehabilitation of structures to the extent those structures
are used for inherently religious activities.
- Promote Independence. The proposal allows religious organizations that
participate in HUD programs to retain their independence and continue to carry
out their mission, provided that they do not use HUD funds to support inherently
religious activities. Among other things, HUD-funded religious organizations
will not be required to remove religious art, icons or symbols from their
facilities as a condition of funding, and they may continue to select their
board members on a religious basis.
- Emphasize Nondiscrimination. The proposed rule would prohibit participating
religious organizations from discriminating against any program beneficiary
or prospective program beneficiary on the basis of religion or religious belief.
- Uphold Equal Treatment. The proposed rule would remove regulations that
single out religious organizations by requiring they conduct eligible program
activities in a manner that is "free from religious influences."
Currently no such requirement applies to non-religious organizations.
Earlier this year, Martinez announced that HUD supports the participation of
faith-based and community groups in federally funded public housing programs.
Martinez authorized approximately 3,200 local housing agencies to institute
"an open door policy" for faith-based organizations to provide social
services to public housing residents.
In addition, Martinez last December prohibited local housing agencies from
forbidding seasonal religious symbols or displays in federally funded public
housing - stressing that HUD regulations do not prohibit such displays in public
settings, provided that equal opportunity is provided to organizations of all
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly
among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans,
supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities, and people living
with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as
well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD
and its programs is available on the Internet.
Content Archived: April 9, 2010