The CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance looks back on the progress made for LGBTQ+ homebuyers and renters in 2021 and the work that still lies ahead.

One year can be a long time. Or it can pass in the blink of an eye. It’s still hard to believe that it’s been more than a year since we opened the doors of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and Scott Romesburg became our first member.

Reflecting on the last year, I am amazed at the successes we have celebrated, not only within the organization but within the community as well.

We elected President Biden who almost immediately signed an Executive Order to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination which was followed by HUD declaring it would protect our community from housing discrimination. We saw the Supreme Court outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity making certain that no one could be fired for being who they are.

The U.S. Census Bureau finally began asking respondents for their sexual orientation and gender identity in an attempt to gather data on LGBTQ+ Americans for the first time in the Bureau’s history. Then, just a few months ago, Zillow reported that approximately 12 percent of all homebuyers in 2021 identify as LGBTQ+, up from 7 percent just two years ago.

As we continue the journey towards representation, equality and fair housing, I am incredibly proud to recognize our 1,700 members and allies for their commitment to The Alliance and our effort to protect the community from housing discrimination, grow LGBTQ+ homeownership rates and improve the industry recognition and understanding of community needs.

And while an anniversary like this is a reason to celebrate and reflect, we also know that we have a lot of work to do to move us forward. UCLA’s Williams Institute reports the LGBTQ+ homeownership rate to be 49.8 percent, far below the U.S. Census’ current national figure of 65.6 percent. And COVID is certainly not helping.

The Williams Institute reported that 19 percent of LGBTQ+ renters are behind in rent, five points higher than non-LGBTQ+ renters, with 47 percent fearing eviction over the last two months (it was 46 percent for all delinquent renters). This number grows to 51 percent of LGBTQ+ people of color.

The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) added to that concern in finding that 8.2 percent of LGBTQ+ adults were not confident that their household will be able to pay their next rent or mortgage payment. It was 6 percent for non-LGBTQ+ adults. Additionally, 19.8 percent of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household with lost employment income in the last month, compared to 16.8 percent of non-LGBTQ+ adults.

You can see why we have our work cut out for us. But that doesn’t mean The Alliance did not accomplish a lot in our first year.

We launched more than 50 chapters and attracted dozens of major national partners including founding members Realogy, First American Title, Realtor.com, Engel & Völkers, HomeServices of America, Truist, Bank of America, Chase, PrimeLending, Prosperity Home Mortgage, EXIT Realty, US Bank, Caliber Home Loans, RE/MAX, NAMB, and the National Association of Realtors.

We have also partnered with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), and established joint efforts with the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) and 15 other state and local Realtor associations.

The Alliance published a comprehensive LGBTQ+ First-Time Homebuyers Guide, created a consumer-facing website, and issued a groundbreaking report on the impact of lifelong discrimination on LGBTQ+ homebuyers and sellers.

Perhaps most importantly, we welcomed hundreds of attendees to our “Alliance Certified Ally” course that provides an exclusive education curriculum to those wishing to learn more about the community and how to best assist LGBTQ+ people on their journey towards homeownership.

While I am thrilled to celebrate our triumphs over the last year, there is still much more work to be done. Our goal is to build a society where the LGBTQ+ community does not have to live in fear of facing discrimination in making an important purchase: a home of their own.

Thankfully, this year has shown the real estate industry to be incredibly welcoming to The Alliance and it is a thrill and an honor for us to work alongside strong and determined individuals as we strive towards building a better future for generations to come.

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.

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