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Addressing LGBTQ+ Discrimination in Housing

Realtor.com this week announced a new partnership with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. The Alliance was founded June 2020 and has chapters throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. The collaboration will allow the groups to identify training opportunities that cultivate LGBTQ+ leaders and mobilize members in support of mutually beneficial federal policies, among other pro-LGBTQ+ and real estate industry initiatives, according to a press release from Realtor.com. The collaboration, they say, is "part of an effort to help identify challenges and initiate positive change in the housing industry."

The two organizations, along with Community Marketing & Insights (a 100% LGBTQ-owned and -operated research firm) collaboratively published findings from a new survey that reveals that LGBTQ discrimination remains a problem in real estate. It found that members of the LGBTQ community are less likely to be homeowners and showed that progress largely depends on the acceptance of welcoming neighbors.

"Home means something different to everyone—family, love, security, belonging—and Realtor.com believes that no matter the circumstance, every person deserves the opportunity to create a home that reflects who they are and what is most important to them," said company CEO Mickey Neuberger. "The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is an essential voice in the discussion of fair housing and we are excited to work with them on these very important issues. We're proud to stand with our LGBTQ+ community and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in housing."

One of President Joe Biden's first executive orders involved banning discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community, making it illegal, on a federal level to deny homes or mortgages to anyone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

And, while housing discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin" has long been illegal under 1968's Fair Housing Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on the heels of Biden's order, effectively added, "housing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation" to the type of complaints it will investigate, act upon, and apply funds toward.

We've seen progress, but work remains, as the study indicates.

Realtor.com reports:

  • When survey respondents were asked if they have ever been discriminated against when applying for a rental lease or buying a home, almost 2 in 10 (17%) confirmed they had been discriminated against, 12% weren't sure but suspected discrimination, and 71% had not experienced this.
  • Discrimination was even more pronounced in the transgender community, with 44% having experienced or suspected discrimination. Fifty-two percent of respondents said this discrimination took place in the last 5 years.
  • Of those who had experienced discrimination, 68% revealed it was because of their sexual orientation, 33% attributed it to their race or ethnicity and 25% said it was because of their gender or gender identity. Some respondents reported that they had experienced multiple forms of discrimination.
  • 49% of respondents own their primary residence, compared to about 66% of the general population. This number was even lower among transgender (35%), Black (29%) and Latinx (41%) community members.
  • 49% of the LGBTQ community lives in a big or medium-sized city. Twenty-seven percent of respondents live in big cities, 22% in medium-sized cities, 13% in small cities, 25% in the suburbs, and 13% in small towns and rural areas. 

Ryan Weyandt, CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance says discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in housing is real.

"But we know the fear of discrimination is even greater," he said. "Our community already must place an outsized emphasis in identifying safe and accepting communities. Discrimination and the fear of it is another burden. I don't believe we are going to see the number of LGBTQ+ homeowners rise without eliminating housing discrimination against us. It is an unnecessary barrier that should be illegal as it is for other diverse groups."

Some cities and neighborhoods appear better equipped to offer a better living situation to LGBTQ+ homeowners, according to a Pride month study by Realtor.com, which suggests places such as Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia, and Austin, Texas are most likely to offer what one agent calls "an equitable experience."

The author of the study summary, Elena Cox, data journalist for Realtor.com, acknowledges metros widely known for LGBTQ+-friendly environs—think San Francisco or New York City—but those places come with exorbitantly high costs of living. The study reveals lesser-known gay meccas.

When asked what type of environments they would consider moving to in the next 10 years, respondents to the Realtor.com/LBGTQ+ Real Estate Alliance study indicated city life remained popular, with medium-sized cities (50%) being favored over big cities (40%).

"Some in the community were also interested in the suburbs (32%), small towns (26%), and rural areas (17%). The responses were in line with the established pattern of younger people being more interested in cities and older people interested in less crowded environments," according to Realtor.com.

"Members of the LGBTQ community often seek out places where they feel safe as well as welcome," said Realtor.com Deputy News Editor, Clare Trapasso. "These tend to be places with visible and supported LGBTQ communities, LGBTQ protections in place and where they believe they are less likely to be discriminated against."

The full report plus more charts like the one below are available at Realtor.com.

When searching for a new neighborhood or place to live, which of the following LGBTQ elements would be important to you or would make you feel welcome?

Easy access to LGBTQ groups, meet-ups and social functions

31%

Known as the "LGBTQ neighborhood" within a city or town

29%

Known as an "LGBTQ-friendly" city or town

61%

LGBTQ resident issues and concerns are part of the local government's website

36%

LGBTQ people are visible in the neighborhood, even if not in large numbers

60%

The politics of the people in the town or neighborhood are similar to my beliefs

57%

Pride celebrations or other LGBTQ events available to attend

37%

Neighbors who seem friendly, open, and accepting of new LGBTQ neighbors

76%

You see rainbow flags or other LGBTQ-supportive symbols on houses or in stores

61%

Neighborhood or town that is racially and ethnically diverse

66%

A place that is close to LGBTQ nightlife

22%

A place that has an LGBTQ Community Center or other LGBTQ-specific social service agencies

28%

Local anti-discrimination laws that specifically include sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected groups

65%

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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