Housing providers are champions of equality and diversity. They have the values, resources and commitment to improve visibility, housing, safety and wellbeing outcomes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) people in communities in the UK.
By Lucy Pedrick*
For 20 years, British housing and LGBT+ organisations and academic researchers have been identifying the opportunities for housing providers to do just that. This year a piece of research was designed to bring their evidence and learning together, to equip UK housing organisations with the information, advice and support that they need to be able to take their next steps on the journey towards LGBT+ inclusion.
The research identified a number of challenges including that:
- LGBT+ people perceive housing providers as inaccessible, and their fear of being discriminated against prevents them from accessing services
- Until staff feel safe to be out at work in housing organisations, customers will not feel safe either
- Organisations must have inclusive policies and publications, and a strong, visible LGBT+ presence before perceptions of exclusion will change
- LGBT+ people are more likely to be homeless than their heterosexual, cisgender peers and they experience homelessness differently and need services which acknowledge and embrace their identities
- LGBT+ people experience hate crime and harassment, and they do not always feel safe reporting their experiences to their landlords
- LGBT+ people experience domestic abuse, and need support which does not marginalise or erase their experiences or identities
- LGBT+ people are more at risk of mental health challenges than their heterosexual, cisgender peers. They need services that understand their health needs in the context of, and not in spite of, their gender and sexual identity.
A series of 24 interviews were carried out with staff in housing providers and LGBT+ organisations and academic researchers interested in sexuality, gender and housing. The aim was to understand what has been learned from LGBT+ initiatives at the intersections of the housing, LGBT+ and research sectors to share best practice.
The final research makes six recommendations, which recognise that LGBT+ inclusion is a process and not a destination, and are designed to enable organisations to take their next steps.
The recommendations are:
1.Monitor sexual orientation and trans status
3.Listen to LGBT+ people and organisations
4.Signpost to local services
5.Integrate LGBT+ experiences in service design and delivery
* Lucy Pedrick works in the policy team at the National Housing Federation, a member of Housing Europe.