In last week’s blog, part 1 (link) I introduced the general topic of the strong connection between diversity work and housing issues, and highlighted many of the key points made at an all day Fair Housing Conference I had attended in the Spring.
This week I would like to expand on how housing issues impact the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community and provide links to some interesting stories and resources in this area.
Four main points:
1) There is no universal national protection for housing discrimination against LGBT people. Many people incorrectly and naively assume that LGBT people are offered the same protections against discrimination as people of different genders, races, religions, etc. In his closing speech at the 2013 Raleigh Fair Housing Conference, Bryan Greene from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development stated, “that it is quite remarkable that in today’s world, that the federal housing statute does not yet include sexual orientation, though some states and municipalities have added it.” Mr. Greene also shared that the US executive branch has issued a regulation that recipients of FHA grants, Section 8 and Public Housing Assistance cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, which is a great step in the right direction.
2) In fact, there is serious housing discrimination against LGBT people. In June of this year, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a study they commissioned in conjunction with the University of Albany, State University of New York. (link to article.) Some of the findings included wide spread discrimination in across almost every market, and that gay male couples experiences more discrimination than lesbian couples. (see also ABC news story)
3) A fast growing area of discussion is LGBT senior housing. Safe and affordable housing for LGBT seniors is a growing hot topic among advocates for aging LGBT populations. There are new projects across the country seeking to bring solutions to the table, especially where LGBT people will be totally accepted – for example even having same-gender partners being able to share a unit or room together and be provided LGBT-competent health services. The North Carolina LGBT bi-weekly paper QNotes featured an excellent detailed article (link) about this.
4) There is a growing number of LGBT-affirming housing solutions emerging in our country. Here are three example:
• The Carol Woods Retirement Community, here in my own state of North Carolina, is a welcoming progressive community which even placed an ad recently in QNotes, North Carolina’s LGBT bi-weekly paper and invited me to speak to their staff and residents about LGBT diversity
• There was a full page ad in a recent Gay and Lesbian Review (bi-monthly magazine) for Fountaingrove Lodge, a new retirement community in California exclusively for the LGBT retirement community.
• Innovative real estate entrepreneurs Todd Shipman and Steve Strode (who I met at the 2013 NGLCC Leadership Conference) have formed rEqual (link), a business partner and advocacy group connecting professionals engaged in the real estate industry with the LGBT community. And the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently awarded a Diversity Grant to the Oregon Association of REALTORS® (OAR) to take rEqual from concept to reality.