LGBTQ Pride Month, Housing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Americans, and President Biden’s Declaration of Housing Equality Initiatives During National Homeownership Month
Because June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and because the focus of our entire initiative at AHP 75 is to expose homeownership inequality and to be a part of the solution of ending it, it is fitting to take time to shed some light on a much-less-discussed group of Americans who are discriminated against with regularity in the realm of housing: the LGBTQ community.
While great strides have been made since the famed Stonewall Riot in 1969, such as same-gender marriage and openly being allowed to serve in the military, it is important to remember that there is much work to be done. Yes, the many progressive steps forward for LGBTQ civil rights should definitely be cause for celebration this month—and every month—but it is abundantly clear that many civil rights issues still persist to this day. One of the most important aspects of LGBTQ civil rights is housing equality, for the same reason outlined in my previous post on how it creates generational wealth, as well as the mental and physical health benefits of home ownership.
According to an extensive study by the Williams Institute School of Law at UCLA, LGBTQ-identifying Americans are subject to a wide variety of types of discrimination in both housing rentals and sales, and have been for decades. Not only did the study find that LGBTQ Americans are denied access from everything to homeless shelters and employment, but also the ability to buy a home and to secure a mortgage.
While the rates of discriminatory denial to homeownership varies widely based on how gay men versus lesbian women are treated—for example—what has been proven without a doubt is that this discrimination does exist. Gay men tend to face higher rates of discrimination, for a wide variety of reasons. But the significance of being denied housing based on one’s sexual identity is palpable within the LGBTQ community.
For example, in a study done by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) during 2018 and 2019, 45% of member real estate agents “believe that a sizable number of their LGBTQ clients will experience the same or more housing discrimination this coming year than previous years.” The same study quotes several LGBTQ clients who express the types of discrimination they faced when trying to buy a home or apply for a mortgage.
Though Federal and State laws explicitly prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination regarding housing, well-documented instances continue to occur. For instance, in the Williams Institute study, researchers found that, after conducting 1,805 paired tests, gay men were disproportionately discriminated against by potential landlords. Landlords, it turned out, “were less likely to schedule an appointment with gay men, told gay men about fewer available units, and quoted gay men $272 more in average yearly rental costs.” Among trans women and, more specifically, black trans women, the rates of eviction and denial of housing ranged from 5% to as high as 17%, respectively.
Sadly, these numbers are likely much higher, as the Williams Institute study states: “It is important to note, however, that in the everyday world, LGBT people who are not responded to, are charged higher rents and fees, are shown fewer apartments, or are subject to other manifestations of bias may not even know that discrimination has occurred, as opposed to researchers conducting a controlled experiment and who have comparative information. And people who do not know or sense that bias is afoot are unlikely to seek redress under any anti-discrimination laws that might be available.”
When it comes to buying a home, the same study found the statistics are just as distressing. For example, same-sex couples were denied mortgages at rates ranging from 3%-8%, when all other factors (income, race, education, etc.) were the same for the potential borrowers. For the lucky borrowers who did secure a mortgage, higher interest rates and/or fees were charged that equated to “between $8.6 million and $86 million more in interest rates and/or fees over time.”
In addition to the very real, documented forms of anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination these various studies and reports have found, there is another powerful way that kneecaps would-be homebuyers: buyer perception. The very expectation of discrimination itself is a powerful tool to dissuade potential LGBTQ homebuyers from even attempting the home-buying process—as are so many other types of “shadow redlining” outlined in our last series of posts on the various and plentiful sinister ways housing discrimination persists today. As both the Williams Institute study and the NAGLREP 2019 report found, 58% of LGBTQ-affiliated real estate agents believed their clients remained renters or had been discouraged from even entering the real estate market to search for a home. The power of discrimination is so strong, even the expectation of it can have the same negative results on its victims.
June—which is not only designated by the federal government as LGBTQ Pride Month but also National Homeownership Month—is the perfect time to shed light on both of these celebratory causes and how they overlap, while also working toward addressing many of the underlying causes of discrimination against LGBTQ Americans who are being denied access to homeownership and its many benefits.
Luckily, President Biden made a point to outline the importance of homeownership and our country’s history of housing discrimination head-on during his June 1st Presidential Proclamation, in which he stated:
[P]eople of color continue to face discrimination in our housing market—when trying to secure mortgages, to have their homes appraised, and to live in neighborhoods where their families can thrive…This is economically and morally wrong, and it is why, as President, I have made it a central priority to expand stability and opportunity within our housing market…The Department of Housing and Urban Development will continue to advance affordable and sustainable homeownership throughout our Nation. This will require that we help more hardworking Americans purchase their first homes, increase access to credit and mortgage insurance for borrowers of color, and fully enforce the 1968 Fair Housing Act—to root out systemic discrimination from our housing market and break down the unjust barriers that prevent too many Americans from buying a home.
It is both refreshing and encouraging to hear these words come out of the President’s mouth during a time when so many poor, minority, and LGBTQ Americans struggle to find affordable homes and access to the means of purchasing them. It is even more encouraging, then, to also read about how the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has produced a report outlining a study of housing discrimination against LGBTQ Americans and recently updated its website to explicitly address the issue and provide resources for both filing discrimination complaints and knowing both Federal and State legal protections against anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination.
HUD also recently implemented a specific rule against anti-LGBTQ discrimination by including it in its enforcement of the protections promised under the Federal Housing Act, which many see as a positive and important step in the right direction. Though even the Federal Government acknowledges the persistence of housing inequality among its LGBTQ citizens, it is a long road ahead to correct all the historic discriminatory practices against the LGBTQ community—especially in regard to housing.
The good news is that our AHP 75 initiative, as we outline thoroughly on our website, blogs, and marketing materials, is committed to helping all Americans achieve homeownership, regardless of race or income. This also includes gender identity and sexual orientation. We believe that a person’s sexuality, gender identity, race, or income level, should not be a hindrance in the process of becoming a homeowner, and our suite of services available to help any homebuyer through the process is purposefully designed to be inclusive to everyone. And we are, indeed, proud of this fact.
If you are a member (or ally) of the LGBTQ community who is interested in becoming a homeowner, we encourage you to reach out to us on our website, and we will connect you with a Community Impact Agent who believes in our mission and has proven as much by graduating from the AHP 75 Academy. Homeownership is not only possible, but every American’s right. We believe in this mission wholeheartedly, as does every one of our affiliated real estate agents and ally companies.
Are you ready to take pride in becoming a homeowner? Visit AHP75.com to learn about our homebuyer programs designed specifically to help you join the ranks of homeowners and get onto the path of financial stability and wealth generation.
Aaron Morales is the Social Justice Writer for AHP 75, based out of Chicago, IL.