WaPo reports

Virginia’s housing authority will provide low-interest mortgages to gay couples and other singles living together, abandoning a one-of-a-kind lending policy that limited such help to married couples and single people living alone, commissioners decided today.

The unanimous decision by the Virginia Housing Development Authority was immediately denounced by religious, conservative and family organizations as an assault on marriage and a cave-in to a gay-rights agenda. They vowed to reverse the decision in the General Assembly this winter.

“The Governor’s pro-homosexual agenda is clear, and it has nothing to do with sound business practices,” a statement by the Family Foundation said. “Instead, he is lending his political capital to a risky mortgage on the future of Virginia families.”

Housing advocates, realtors and representatives of the mortgage and home building industries hailed the decision as a common-sense change that will allow people who are not related to pool their resources to buy a house. Under the rule, elderly singles living together, college friends and other single people were barred from applying jointly for a VHDA loan.

Advocates also said the elimination of the authority’s “family rule” ends two decades of discrimination against homosexual couples. No other state or federal mortgage lender imposes similar restrictions on their applicants for home loans.

Honestly, I see no reason for states to be involved in housing loans, other than in a judicial enforcement function. But, while I could understand the public policy rationale behind giving preferential treatment to married couples, especially those with children, I can think of no plausible rationale for treating people simply living together differently than singles.

Update (1628 6/26): Upon rereading this in the print edition, it’s obvious I misread part of it. I was hoping that they had just changed the story from the early bird version of last evening but, alas, even my quote contains the truth: They weren’t discriminating against singles at all, at least in the sense that single people were denied loans. What’s happening here is simply that singles living together–for whatever reason–are now allowed to qualify for loans based on their joint incomes.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kevin Drum says:

    Do tell. What public policy rationale is that, aside from wanting to subsidize marriage for some reason?

    Besides, it sounds like VA was already subsidizing singles too, so they aren’t going to be treating gay couples any different than singles.

    Personally, I think that government benefits shouldn’t depend on marital status at all. If you want to subsidize housing, or anything else, either do it for everyone or do it for no one.

  2. This sounds about right to me. There are people out there who would never earned property if they hadn’t pooled resources with platonic friends, and then bought out the friends.

    The government shouldn’t be in this business. But if you’re going to help first-time home buyers, help ’em all.

  3. James Joyner says:


    That’s my position as well; sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    I wasn’t aware of the current status of the law here in Virginia–I moved here less than a year ago and am still renting–until seeing the WaPo piece.

    I can *understand* society’s desire to promote stable family life, especially when there are children involved, because of longstanding social mores. I can’t come up with any rationale for supporting couples living together–or simple roommates–at a different level than singles.

  4. I’m in favor of subsidies for no one.