BLOG: Progress and challenges in LGBTQ2+ housing inclusivity
Published: 23 Aug, 2023

In his blog on 12 July, CaCHE’s Gareth Young said that ‘Pride isn’t just for June’ and asked, ‘what next for LGBTQ+ people and housing?’. Gareth is right to highlight these points and it was inspiring and thought-provoking to read the collection of blogs that CaCHE ran for Pride 2023. These show just how much has been done to make housing more inclusive for LGBTQ+ people – whether that be around issues of homelessness, particular groups within the LGBTQ+ community or in specific housing settings such as care homes, as well as highlighting what still needs to be done.

Over the past six years, we’ve been involved in research and knowledge exchange projects to call attention to the issues faced by LGBTQ+ residents who live in social housing. We began by conducting research, commissioned by HouseProud in 2017, which illustrated experiences of discrimination and harassment that LGBTQ+ social housing residents can face, alongside being vigilant in and around their homes. We also documented examples of good practice and support from some housing providers. The response from the social housing sector was both surprise and a commitment to support action and change.

Since 2018, we’ve been working in collaboration with HouseProud, Stonewall Housing, Opening Doors, Tonic Housing, social housing providers and, most importantly, LGBTQ+ social housing residents to address these issues. Thanks to funding from our own institution, the University of Surrey and some of the country’s largest social housing providers, we were able to co-design, develop, launch, support and monitor progress on the UK’s first equality framework for social housing providers to work with their LGBTQ+ residents to create truly inclusive social housing – the HouseProud Pledge Scheme. We then received funding from CaCHE which enabled us to implement and follow progress on the Pledge Scheme, documented in the report Housing with Pride.

Inevitably, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted our progress, but during the past couple of years, we’ve further collaborated and extended work as part of a second Housing with Pride project, funded by UKRI/ESRC, whose report we have just released. This second project has enabled us to more fully engage and amplify LGBTQ+ residents’ voices in relation to the Pledge Scheme and highlight their experiences of social housing more widely in the sector. Alongside presentations at events, we submitted evidence to the House of Commons committee on Levelling Up, Housing and Communities regarding The Regulation of Social Housing, which appeared in its report (see item 61 on page 26 of the report here)

Most significantly, our latest Housing with Pride project aimed to ensure the longevity, governance and sustainability of the Pledge Scheme. Housing providers who sign up for the Pledge Scheme need to know: (a) what to do to be LGBTQ+ inclusive, (b) when to do it and (c) how the scheme is regularly audited. A significant outcome of the project is that Stonewall Housing and HouseProud have now entered into an exciting new partnership to take the Pledge Scheme forward, with an advisory board who have a wide range of skills and experiences to drive it forward.

LGBTQ+ social housing residents have been central to the development of the Pledge Scheme and will be as it moves forward. Putting LGBTQ+ residents at the centre of the Pledge Scheme is vital if all residents are to trust its status as a preeminent equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) accreditation framework within social housing. We know the new partnership is committed to this and look forward to creating further change within the social housing sector. Pride must be worked at, earned, respected and above all celebrated. Gareth Young is right. Pride isn’t just for June – UK social housing can be a beacon of pride for LGBTQ+ inclusivity throughout the year. Let’s all make it happen!

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