The U.S. Census Bureau is something most of us only pay attention to once a decade. But in reality, the Census Bureau turns out enlightening information on an ongoing basis. In fact, it’s the agency’s quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report that alerts us to the nation’s homeownership rate along with how various regions, ethnicities and age groups are faring.
But the LGBTQ+ community had never been included in any data. That all changed on Aug. 5 when the Census Bureau announced it would ask respondents their sexual orientation and gender identity when conducting its Household Pulse Survey (HPS).
This long-overdue recognition marks a major milestone for the 5.6 percent of the American population that currently identify as LGBTQ+, and it paves a path for those who have been previously misunderstood and marginalized.
Six days after the announcement that the community would be included, the Census Bureau shared its latest HPS with this headline: Household Pulse Survey Shows LGBT Adults More Likely to Report Living in Households with Food and Economic Insecurity than Non-LGBT Respondents.
Before I grappled with the severity of the data, I went into the 37 different tables in the report. It was incredible to see these rows of identifiers included the following:
- Cisgender male
- Cisgender female
- Gay or lesbian
Chart after chart included us. It’s a huge win that I hope continues forever. After recognizing this monumental moment of inclusion, my enthusiasm was tempered with the reality that so many in the LBGTQ+ community are suffering.
The report indicated a wide variety of economic and health disparities among LGBTQ+ Americans, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such findings included:
- 8.2 percent of LGBTQ+ adults living in homes that were rented or owned with a mortgage or loan reported “they were not at all confident that their household will be able to make their next housing payment on time,” in comparison to 6.0 percent of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
- About 13.1 percent of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household “where there was sometimes or often not enough to eat in the past seven days,” compared to 7.2 percent of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
- 36.6 percent of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household “that had difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the previous seven days,” compared to 26.1 percent of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
- 19.8 percent of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household “with lost employment income in the past four weeks,” in comparison to 16.8 percent of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
We are going to learn so much more in the coming months as the HPS is released every two weeks. I imagine we may get evidence that could help dispel a major myth many in real estate believe about the LGBTQ+ community: We are not all DINKS (dual income no kids) who are doing well financially, travel frequently and own two homes.
While many LGBTQ+ adults and couples are commonly perceived to live comfortably, previous research says otherwise. For example, UCLA’s Williams Institute found that only 49.8 percent of LGBTQ+ adults owned their homes, in comparison to the national mark of 65.4 percent.
We also know that LGBTQ+ people are far more likely to face challenges accessing affordable housing, largely due to higher poverty rates and blatant discrimination in housing and mortgage lending.
As so many diverse groups before us have cried — representation matters. Now, the needs of the LGBTQ+ community will become more well-known as our nation continues to move towards being more inclusive.
Ryan Weyandt is the CEO of The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, a 501(c)6 nonprofit dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ+ community on the path to homeownership through advocacy on behalf of the community on housing issues. The Alliance, founded in June 2020, is an all-inclusive organization that works to improve the professional lives of its members through a public-facing Alliance Referral Community.