Monthly Archives: August 2015

Do Gayborhoods Have a Future?

Gay neighborhoods have grown in popularity over the years.  Originally something of a ghetto where gays and lesbians were almost forced to live due to prejudice, today’s gayborhoods are well-to-do areas with higher than average property values.  People flock to them because they want to live there, not because other neighborhoods aren’t welcoming.  But with the gay marriage question now settled and more and more people supporting LGBT rights, do these gay neighborhoods have a future?  Will most fade away as the LGBT population becomes dispersed across cities?

Property Values

The Future of the Gayborhood Is Somewhat Unknown, But the Culture That Thrives Within Them is Here to StayOne reason some gay and lesbian realtors don’t expect gayborhoods to simply vanish overnight is that they tend to have higher than average property values when compared to the rest of the city in which they are located.  This means those who own homes in these areas may not want to sell.  It may also be difficult for others to move into a gayborhood if they aren’t prepared to deal with the higher property values.  Of course, this could work against the neighborhood, too.  Without affordable properties, it’s possible younger gay and lesbian couples won’t move to the area, leading to its diversification.  However, time has shown that this isn’t the case.

The Makeup of the Neighborhood

A joint study done by researchers from both the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Pennsylvania on gay neighborhoods showed an interesting result: gay men tend to live in close proximity to each other, while lesbians do not tend to cluster quite as substantially.  This can be seen in cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.  Data from 2000 and from 2010 show that lesbians were much more likely to be dispersed across a city than gay men were.  If this trend holds, then we may see the decline of lesbian neighborhoods, but not of gay male neighborhoods.

Location

Some people believe that all gay neighborhoods have some things in common, but that hasn’t proven to be true.  While a survey does seem to show that gay men tend to move to neighborhoods that feature more historic, older homes, this isn’t always the case.  There isn’t much to connect the various gayborhoods across the U.S. other than the fact that many LGBT people live there.  This makes it hard to tell if or when we’ll see new gay neighborhoods form.

The Future

So is there a future for gayborhoods?  At the end of the day, experts can’t really say one way or another.  They point to the fact that many ethnic groups tend to cluster together despite the lack of reasons for this as a sign that LGBT people may always tend to gravitate towards each other.

Gayborhoods and Increasing Property Values

Ever since a study done in 2001 on areas with high concentrations of LGBT homeowners and property values, gay and lesbian realtors have continued to notice that gayborhoods often have more expensive real estate.  This phenomenon continues today.  While it’s not always true, studies have shown that neighborhoods where a large number of LGBT people live tend to have overall above-average property values.

Property Values in So-Called Gayborhoods Are Higher than Comparable Suburbs, Is This a Coincidence?Of course, this won’t always happen—a home won’t automatically increase in value just because a gay or lesbian couple moves in, nor is it always true for every LGBT-heavy housing area.  However, this trend does appear to be a legitimate statistic, not merely an urban legend.  When people say that when gays move in, your property values increase and you get a new Whole Foods, it may not actually be a joke.

While the original study done in 2001 may be outdated, a recent analysis done by Trulia economist Ralph McLaughlin shows that its conclusions continue to be valid.  He looked at housing data and population statistics from 2012 to 2015.  Overall, he discovered that the average cost of a home in an area with a higher concentration of same-sex couples (both married and those who considered themselves married) was, on average, higher than comparable neighborhoods with a higher concentration of opposite-sex couples.  For areas with more male couples, home prices were about 23 percent higher overall, while areas with more female couples saw an increase of about 18 percent.

In addition to having higher home values when compared to similar neighborhoods, McLaughlin’s analysis showed that gayborhoods tend to have higher home prices on average when compared to the rest of the city.  He points to areas like the Castro district of San Francisco, the West Hollywood part of LA, and the Provincetown part of Cap Code, Massachusetts, as examples.  Housing in West Hollywood, for example, is 123 percent of the average LA cost.  In fact, out of all of the LGBT districts he studied, only one was actually cheaper: Guerneville, a part of northern San Francisco.

Is there a reason for this?  Some people assume LGBT people simply keep their homes in better shape or make more improvements than straight couples, but that seems unlikely.  Instead, McLaughlin suggests that most LGBT neighborhoods were already fairly expensive when compared to the rest of the city they are located in.  The housing crash may not have hit them as hard as other areas.  Same-sex female couples are also more likely to have children, which means that they tend to move to better areas with good schools.

Being LGBT Today

With all of the changes that have been occurring in the country today with regards to the LGBT community, some people aren’t sure where things stand now.  Here’s a quick summary of some of the biggest changes in the U.S. that affect gays and lesbians.

Being a Part of the LGBT Community Today Provides More Rights and Protection Than Ever BeforeMarriage

The biggest and most well-known major change occurred with marriage. It’s legal in all 50 states now, although of course there are some conservative people who are trying to continue the fight.  What this means is that a number of states that have civil unions or domestic partnerships are now phasing those relationship statuses out.  If you want one of these forms of partnership instead of a marriage (and there are some people who do for various reasons), you may want to make sure they are still being offered.

Housing

Gay and lesbian realtors are pleased that more and more LGBT couples are now able to apply for mortgages as married couples.  Married couples typically have an easier time applying for and getting mortgages, which means they will have an easier time getting houses.  Married couples can also hold property as joint tenants, which means that they have more rights than tenants in common.  Unfortunately, many states do not have laws preventing housing discrimination, which means LGBT couples still face challenges in securing housing.

Employment

Employment is in the midst of flux right now.  The Equal Employment Occupation Committee has stated that the “sex” part of the standard nondiscrimination policy applies to sexual orientation in addition to gender itself.  However, this only applies to federal employees, not those employed by private businesses.  Private businesses can still fire people at will for being gay in most states.  However, many companies are including anti-discrimination policies in their hiring policies now, which is a sign that the times are continuing to change and become more accepting for LGBT people.

Acceptance

Overall, more and more people are now accepting of LGBT people than ever.  While there is still work to go, especially in the area of transgender acceptance, many Americans now show their support for gay and lesbian people.  With marriage equality now the law of the land, employment discrimination changing, and more private companies incorporating anti-discrimination policies, many people expect that as the younger generations age, LGBT discrimination will become a thing of the past.  Employment, housing, and other issues are sure to vanish once that happens.

Posted on August 8, 2015 in Gay and Lesbian

Fighting Housing Discrimination

Despite the fact that LGBT rights have taken a number of huge jumps forward in the past year, gay and lesbian citizens are still not fully protected under the law.  Employment and housing discrimination is still legal in some states, which is why it’s important for LGBT people to know how to handle discrimination when it occurs.  If you believe that you have been refused housing due to your orientation, you need to take action.

What the Law Says

There Is Not Much That Can Be Done About Housing Discrimination in All States, But The Laws Are Catching Up to The Perpetrators As All LGBT Laws ChangeFair housing laws state that no one can discriminate based on color, race, sex, religion, disability, family status, or national origin.  While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently decided that sex includes sexual orientation, their interpretation currently only applies to federal employment, not housing.  This means that there are landlords and sellers out there who may discriminate against you because of your orientation.  This includes denying an application, ending a lease early, or even evicting people without any other reason and without any notice.

What Can You Do?

The first thing you can do is try to avoid any chance at being discriminated against.  Find a good gay or lesbian realtor or a landlord who is known for being LGBT-friendly.  If that’s not an option, then first you need to be certain that discrimination occurred.  Having documentation that backs up your claim is very important.  Otherwise, it comes down to your word verses theirs, and that makes it very difficult to build a good discrimination case against someone.  Remember, the burden of proof is on you.

The first thing you should do is try to sit down with the other person and work things out, sometimes with the assistance of a neutral third party.  You may still end up searching for a new home, but you may be able to work out some extra time to do so.  However, in many discrimination cases, the other party simply isn’t willing to work with you.

If that’s the case, you may have to file a complaint with your local or state housing agency or even consider a lawsuit.  If you do, you’ll certainly want to have proof backing up your claim.  If you do and you win, you may receive damages, have your court costs paid, or have fines and punitive damaged levied against the discriminating party.  The court can also order a landlord to rent an apartment, duplex, or house to you, but you probably don’t want to have a landlord who is anti-LGBT.  In most housing discrimination cases, it’s best to make certain the other person is punished according to the law and then move on.