3335 W St Germain St.
Suite 108
St. Cloud, MN 56301

(320) 656-8890

Barriers to Affordable Housing for the LGBTQ+ Community

Jun 26, 2024

Safe, decent, and affordable housing is a foundational part of our lives and success. As we’ve discussed before, affordable housing is a gateway into a better and healthier life. Unsafe and unaffordable housing is associated with worse mental and physical health, worse educational outcomes for children, and increased financial stress. 

Despite the known benefits of safe, decent, and affordable homeownership, there remain significant barriers to this pathway for many different communities. Since June is Pride Month, we’ve decided to focus on the LGBTQ+ community and the barriers they face. 

Before beginning this discussion, it is important to understand who the LGBTQ+ community is. The Human Rights Campaign defines LGBTQ+ as “an acronym for ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer’ with a ‘+’ sign to recognize the limitless sexual orientations and gender identities used by members of [the LGBTQ+] community” (Human Rights Campaign, “Glossary of Terms). While this acronym is the one most often seen and used today, there are many others.  


One of the biggest barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals face when accessing housing is discrimination based on their identity. While twenty-three states (including Minnesota!) within the U.S. have laws that explicitly ban housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, there are no federal laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from this kind of discrimination.  

In twenty-seven states, members of the LGBTQ+ community can legally be denied housing based on their identity. According to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a nonprofit think tank, this amounts to 47% of LGBTQ+ people living in states that do not protect them from housing discrimination. 

Connecting to this, in a 2013 study, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that same-sex couples faced “significant levels of discrimination when responding to advertised rental housing in metropolitan areas nationwide” (Human Rights Campaign, “Fair and Equal Housing Act”). 


Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community can create barriers to more than just accessing housing. UCLA’s Williams Institute did a study examining housing challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in 2020. They looked at various aspects of housing, including housing affordability, homeownership rates, homelessness, housing discrimination, and state and federal laws and protections.  

Regarding homeownership, they found that 49.8% of LBGT adults owned their homes compared to 70.1% of non-LGBT adults and that LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender individuals have even lower rates of homeownership. This is the result of a variety of factors, including discrimination amongst housing providers and real estate professionals, the mental health effects of discrimination and bullying, and the obstacles and barriers LGBTQ+ face in their daily lives (for example, accessing marriage, having children, etc.).  


So what can be done? 

Many organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and the Williams Institute, are advocating for a comprehensive federal policy that protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Williams Institute also recommends additional research into the barriers LGBTQ+ people face in accessing housing affordability services. 



Human Rights Campaign, “Glossary of Terms,” https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms. 

Habitat for Humanity, “The impact of housing affordability on families,” https://www.habitat.org/costofhome/housing-affordability-and-families. 

Human Rights Campaign, “Fair and Equal Housing Act,” https://www.hrc.org/resources/fair-and-equal-housing-act. 

Movement Advancement Project (MAP), “Nondiscrimination Laws,” https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/non_discrimination_laws/housing. 

The Williams Institute, “LGBT People and Housing Affordability, Discrimination, and Homelessness.” 


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(320) 656-8890

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