As NAGLREP joined NAR last year in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, together we repeatedly pointed out a missing piece — protecting LGBTs.

It will be a very big year in the LGBT community.

This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that signaled the birth of the modern LGBT equality movement and led to June being known throughout the world as LGBT Pride Month.

As the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) joined the National Association of Realtors (NAR) last year in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, together we repeatedly pointed out a missing piece — protecting LGBTs.

I believe 2019 will see the LGBT community turn to NAGLREP and all of us in real estate to tackle a major problem still facing LGBTs — housing discrimination. It is hard to believe that it is still not illegal to discriminate in housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Discrimination is one of the reasons why Freddie Mac found that LGBT homeownership rates are 49 percent, far below the national figure of 64 percent. Many LGBTs remain on the housing sidelines because discrimination, or the fear of it, is preventing them from enjoying the emotional and financial benefits of homeownership.

The fear is real as a federal judge recently ruled a St. Louis retirement community has the right to refuse a married lesbian couple from moving in, after a deposit was already accepted.

Many of the leaders from the LGBT community and real estate industry will discuss LGBT housing discrimination at our third annual NAGLREP Policy Summit on April 10-11 in Washington, D.C.

Eradicating housing discrimination will have a positive impact on our business.

While the arrival of a new Congress saw the expiration of two previous bills that would have added LGBT protections — The Equality Act and Fair and Equal Housing Act — it is expected that the Equality Act will be reintroduced.

Thankfully the Realtor community has been welcoming to NAGLREP over the years, yet our industry, like all of society, still has a long ways to go to eliminate discrimination.

Realtors like Jamie Zapata have seen the impact of such progress. She is a transgender woman, member of NAGLREP and president of our new San Antonio chapter. She has also closed quite a few deals in her first 15 months with Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Realtors.

“I know the discrimination is out there, and I have been treated poorly by a few agents and those on the title and mortgage side, but I don’t let it bother me,” she said. “But I have had friends and clients that have been impacted by similar behavior, and I want to be there to help them. So many in the LGBT community are in search for people they can trust and be open with.”

The real estate industry is a powerful force that can influence change. NAGLREP’s nearly 2,200 members and 30-plus chapters welcome you to join us and attend our events to learn best practices when working with the LGBT community.

It is our mission to help improve the lives of LGBTs when it comes to housing. We do that in quite a few ways, including helping the real estate industry open its arms even wider to us.

Jeff Berger is the founder of NAGLREP in Jupiter, Florida. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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