Research Shows LGBTQ Housing Discrimination Lives On, But There’s Hope

The left celebrated LGBT equality when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, but there are other crucial aspects of life like securing a place to live where prejudice still becomes an obstacle for those in the queer community.

Although we donít hear nearly as much about housing discrimination, research published by the Urban Institute this month confirms that it persists to this day. When searching for housing, gay male couples and transgender people are not presented with the same opportunities as straight and cisgender applicants.

The Research

In brief, the study focused on thousands of couples looking to rent homes and apartments in the Washington, D.C., Dallas and Los Angeles areas. Researchers sent out same-sex and opposite-sex couples with similar financial details and backgrounds to the same housing providers to see if they were treated the same. Cisgender and transgender people with similar details sought housing in a similar manner, too.

By the researchersí own admission, housing discrimination was rarely blatant. It worked in such a way that some LGBT housing applicants might walk away from the process unaware that they werenít treated equally. That said, after looking at the numbers, the researchers did detect a disparate treatment for the gay and trans home-seekers.

The Findings

According to the numbers, gay men were less likely to be told about vacant apartments, less likely to be given appointments to see vacant apartments and they were told the rent was about $272 more per year for apartments that straight couples were.

As for the transgender applicants, they were also less likely to be told about available units. Moreover, they were the most likely people to be snubbed entirely by a housing provider and told there were no units even when units were available.

Notably, gay women secured housing opportunities at nearly equal rates to heterosexual women in these studies, so it appears lesbians donít have the same stigma as others under the LGBT umbrella, at least when it comes to finding a home.

Housing discrimination doesnít have to mean that LGBT people get blocked out of renting homes altogether. By showing fewer units, not scheduling appointments and quoting hire rent prices, housing providers are not offering gay men and transgender applicants an equal opportunity.

The Hope Moving Forward

While the numbers corroborate that discrimination for LGBT people persists in the housing market, thereís also been some notable traction on this front toward minimizing this discrimination.

In April, a federal court ruled that, in addition to preventing discrimination on the basis of gender, the Fair Housing Act should also prohibit mistreatment for LGBT individuals. Thatís an important provision that was unclear previously.

To make that protection more explicit, Senator Tim Kaine sponsored legislation last month that would guarantee LGBT people cannot be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As it stands, the federal law only specifically prevents housing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, disability, etc.

Itís a bill that has bipartisan support. In the House of Representatives, Republican Congressperson Scott Taylor also sponsored a bill to ensure that the Fair Housing Act does not allow gay and trans people to miss out on housing opportunities. As a matter of fact, it was the first piece of legislation Taylor introduced as a federal lawmaker.

I almost feel compelled to commend Taylor for taking up a seemingly non-conservative issue, but preventing housing discrimination should be a non-partisan affair. Good on Taylor, Kaine and all lawmakers who fight to make this law change a reality.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Philippa P
Philippa Pyesterday


Jaime J
Jaime J2 days ago

Than you

Marija M
Marija M6 days ago


Carl R
Carl R8 days ago


Lisa M
Lisa M9 days ago


Lisa M
Lisa M9 days ago


Karen H
Karen H11 days ago

When I was single and looking for an apartment, one homeowner told me, "I don't rent to single women. They're nothing but trouble." Wow. I'm glad I didn't get the apartment because about a year later a flood hit the area & the house was probably destroyed. Karma? Maybe. When my partner & I were renting - no problem. I wonder if male landlords are hoping for some girl-on-girl action they can watch.

Margie F
Margie F14 days ago

Thank you

pam w
pam w15 days ago

Just another fine example of religious groups trying to punish/oppose anyone who doesn't swallow their ''rules." (Although I don't remember anything about same-gender couples on those stone tablets........)

Liliana Garcia
Liliana G16 days ago

Thanks for this article. Of course not informing about a vacancy is blatant prejudice! I hope people keep fighting so that an adequate home is seen as a basic human right!