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LGBT People More Likely to Face Housing Instability

This study examines the challenges facing LGBT people in accessing affordable and secure housing. It reviews existing literature on housing and LGBT people, discusses current nondiscrimination laws and policies, conducts original data analysis, and identifies gaps in knowledge that researchers and government agencies can address.

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A new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law examines challenges facing LGBT people in accessing affordable and secure housing. Compared to non-LGBT people, the report finds that LGBT people have higher rates of poverty, lower rates of homeownership, and higher rates of homelessness. The report also finds that LGBT people face widespread discrimination in housing, mortgage lending, and homeless shelters and services.

“Stigma and discrimination create or exacerbate housing instability for LGBT people across their lives—from family rejection of LGBT youth to discrimination in the rental market and mortgage industry to harassment at senior living facilities,” said lead author Adam P. Romero, Federal Policy Director and Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, having safe and stable housing could not be more important. Yet only a minority of states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, lending, and homeless services.”

The current report synthesizes literature on housing and LGBT people, discusses current laws and policies that provide protection from discrimination, conducts original data analysis, and identifies gaps in knowledge that researchers and governmental data systems should address. Key findings include:

Housing Affordability

  • More than one in five (21.6%) LGBT adults in the United States are living in poverty, compared to 15.7% of cisgender straight adults, according to a 2019 report by the Williams Institute.
  • That same report found that, among LGBT people, poverty is especially prevalent among racial minorities, bisexual people, women, transgender people, and younger people.

Homeownership

Figure 1. Homeownership by LGBT identity and by transgender status. Sources: Conron (2019) and Meyer et al. (2019). LGBT People and Housing Affordability, Discrimination, and Homelessness (April 2020). The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
  • Although 70.1% of non-LGBT adults own their own homes, that number is just under half (49.8%) for LGBT adults, according to Williams Institute analyses. Other Williams Institute studies have found that homeownership is even lower among LGBT racial minorities and transgender people.
  • Same-sex couples are less likely to own their homes than different-sex couples (63.8% and 75.1%, respectively).
  • Married same-sex couples are less likely to own their homes than married different-sex couples (72% and 79.4%, respectively).
  • A variety of studies find that LGBT people face discrimination when trying to rent apartments and secure mortgages, among other discrimination experiences related to housing.

Homelessness

  • Studies find that between 20% and 45% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, approximately 2 to 4 times more than the estimated percentage of all youth who identify as LGBTQ.
  • Among young adults aged 18-25, LGBT people have a 2.2 times greater risk of homelessness than non-LGBT people, according to a 2018 study from the University of Chicago.
  • Studies find that LGBT youth and adults, especially transgender people, face barriers to accessing homeless shelters and services.

This report was funded by Wells Fargo.

Read the report: “LGBT People and Housing Affordability, Discrimination, and Homelessness” by Adam P. Romero, Shoshana K. Goldberg, and Luis A. Vasquez.

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october 2020

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