The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, one of two organizations that formed earlier this year following controversy at the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), is off to a strong start.
The new trade group this week announced partnerships with luxury real estate brand Engel & Vӧlkers and with the National Fair Housing Alliance. The announcements came shortly after the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance announced it had appointed Ryan Weyandt as its CEO. The group, founded in June and officially launched on Oct. 1, also began accepting members from throughout the real estate industry this month.
On Monday, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance said it had signed its first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) in order to join forces to identify and eliminate housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the group said in a press release. The NFHA is a consortium of more than 200 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations and state and local civil rights agencies from throughout the country.
“So many are stunned to learn that the LGBTQ+ community does not have the full breadth of protections at the federal level under our nation’s fair housing and fair lending laws,” Weyandt said in a statement.
“While our industry, led by the National Association of Realtors, has been proactive in working with our community in the fight for housing equality, we have a long way to go. Only 27 states and Washington, D.C. have explicit local laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The partnership with NFHA will allow us to work collaboratively and hopefully get us to a much better place as a community.”
The MOU calls for the two groups to cross-promote fair housing initiatives, educate the public about fair housing rights, provide fair housing training to LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance members and work together to highlight instances of housing discrimination, according to the release.
The NFHA will also have a seat on the LBGTQ+ Real Estate Alliance’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, the LGBTQ+ Mortgage Advisory Council and the Sponsor Advisory Board. The Sponsor Advisory Board will focus on long term strategy, public policy and industry trends, according to the group.
“The National Fair Housing Alliance is thrilled about partnering with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance to advance fair housing, particularly at a time when civil rights are under attack and key tools for strengthening equity are being systematically eviscerated,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of NFHA, in a statement.
“The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently passed its harmful Disparate Impact rule, which will gut civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and members of other vulnerable communities, making it exceedingly harder to challenge systemic discrimination by housing providers. We must fight back, and our new partnership with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance will give us another avenue through which to do just that.”
On Thursday, the LBGTQ+ Real Estate Alliance also announced its first corporate partnership, with global luxury real estate brand Engel & Vӧlkers. Anthony Hitt, whom the Alliance noted is the first openly gay CEO among major national real estate brands, heads up the brand in the U.S. as president and CEO of Engel & Vӧlkers Americas.
“It’s been an honor working with Ryan as he and his team have created an organization doing the right things for the right reasons and developing strategic opportunities for companies to come together in the name of advocacy and equality,” Hitt said in a statement.
Hitt became involved in the tumult at NAGLREP this spring that led to the creation of the Alliance when Robert Peterson, an agent at Engel & Völkers in British Columbia, Canada, began raising questions about NAGLREP’s governance after NAGLREP founder and president Jeff Berger made several controversial comments on Facebook. Hitt expressed displeasure regarding the tone of the conversation between Peterson and Berger on both sides, but defended Peterson’s right to ask questions and asked for changes to NAGLREP’s governance, openly questioning whether Berger continued to be the best person to lead the organization.
The situation came to a head in June, when numerous NAGLREP members called for Berger’s resignation. When he refused, they instead left the organization en masse and subsequently formed two successor organizations, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and the RealPride Network.
Now, Hitt will serve on the Alliance’s Sponsor Advisory Board and Guy Parker of Engel & Vӧlkers Atlanta is now the International Ambassadors chair for the Alliance. The Alliance and E&V will work together to create “network and industry-level educational offerings, marketing materials, event integrations at local and multinational levels and more,” according to a release.
Weyandt praised Hitt for his counsel and support as the Alliance was taking shape and hinted at more partnerships in the future.
“[Hitt] has built an incredible culture of diversity and inclusion at Engel & Vӧlkers and he is a leader in the LGBTQ+ real estate community. This is the first of what we hope will be many more announcements in the near future. We look forward to Anthony’s leadership and welcoming many of the brand’s brokers, managers and agents into the Alliance,” Weyandt said in a statement.