The LGBTQ Community and Fear of Housing Discrimination

LGBTQ people face discrimination in a number of ways every day, including in the housing industry. Those who are looking to purchase a home may be very reluctant due to stories they’ve heard about real estate agents, sellers, and lenders discriminating again st them. Studies done by Freddie Mac show that almost half (46%) of the 85,000 LGBTQ renters they surveyed are concerned that they will be discriminated against in their hunt for a house. The same study showed that 13% of those who did buy a house feel like they faced discrimination in some form.

Fear as a Barrier to Homeownership

The LGBTQ Community and Fear of Housing DiscriminationThe impact of this fear of discrimination is easy to see. Nationwide, 65% of people own their own home. However, in the LGBTQ community, this rate is only 49%. The fear of being discriminated against, even in areas that are quite liberal, leads to LGBTQ individuals and couples to abandon their dreams of owning a home before they even start.

For some, the fear isn’t even about the home buying process. They aren’t afraid of being discriminated against by real estate experts, lenders, or even sellers. However, they are concerned about their neighbors. Some 40% were afraid of how their neighborhoods would treat them if they started a family. This is one reason why looking for homes in the gay district is helpful—in most cases, you don’t have to worry about your neighbors, at least as far as accepting your relationship or decision to start a family goes.

Do You Have Anything to Truly Worry About?

Yes, sadly, discrimination against the LGBTQ community still happens. While it’s not always obvious in the real estate industry, it is present. Fortunately, it’s not always prevalent, especially in certain areas of the country. Plus, if you choose to work with a gay or lesbian real estate agent, you can at least know you’re working with someone who will not discriminate against you. They will be able to help you through the process of buying a home while also alleviating any worry that you may have about your agent.

U Street, a Home to the LGBTQ Community in DC

Situated in the Northwestern part of Washington, D.C. is an area known as the U Street Corridor. It’s sometimes referred to as Cardozo or as the Cardozo/Shaw district, too. This area is a residential and commercial neighborhood that is made up of nine blocks of U Street, starting at NW 9th and ending at NW 18th street. It’s bordered on the north by Florida Avenue NW and by S Street NW on the south. The area has gone through a number of major changes over the years, but today it’s considered an ethnically diverse neighborhood that’s home to a thriving LGBTQ community.

U Street’s Beginning

U Street, a Home to the LGBTQ Community in DCThe neighborhood was originally developed in the 1860s. Many of the homes were done in the Victorian style, and most are not considered historic. These row houses were built quickly to house a growing population after the U.S. Civil War. During that time, the government was growing fairly quickly, and many more people were needed in the D.C. area than ever before.

During the 1900s, the area became the center of Washington’s African American community. In fact, until Harlem overtook it in the 1920s, U Street was the largest such community in the country. Many businesses, theaters, churches, gyms, and other organizations thrived in the neighborhood. Up until the 1960s, U Street had the nickname of Black Broadway thanks to the large number of performances held here. Some of the most famous performers include Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong.

The Decline and Restoration of the Neighborhood

Following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, assassination in 1968, the area began to decline. Riots broke out at U Street and 14th Street. The violence resulted in many businesses and residents moving out of the neighborhood, and by the mid-70s, drugs were a major issue on U Street.

When the Reeves Center was built in 1986, it began a domino effect that started revitalizing the district. New bus and metro stops were added, a number of grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development came through, and other new construction brought people back to U Street. Redevelopment continued into the 2000s and early 2010s, gentrifying much of U Street.

Today, the diverse area is home to many LGBTQ individuals and families. Many businesses have returned, and the arts community is once against thriving here. For those who are looking for a home that welcomes everyone, U Street is a great opportunity. Housing costs have gone up due to the gentrification of the neighborhood, but a good gay or lesbian agent will help you find a home you love that’s within your budget.

Should I Retire to an LGBTQ Neighborhood?

If you’re getting close to retirement age, you’ve probably already started thinking about where you want to spend your golden years. While some people plan on staying right where they are, others want to embark on a new adventure now that they’re retired and free to do what they please with their lives. Determining where you want to live is a key component to your retirement plans. If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, you may be thinking about retiring to a gay neighborhood. Should you?

Look at Your Finances

Should I Retire to a LGBTQ NeighborhoodThe first thing to do is to take a good, hard look at your finances. Many traditional gay neighborhoods are also quite expensive. Boystown, the Castro District, and most of the neighborhoods in New York City are very costly, and you may simply not be able to afford to live there. Some up-and-coming communities that are filled with LGBTQ residents may be more affordable, but they often don’t have the character that some of the older neighborhoods have. Some are also new construction in downtown areas, which can be costly as well.

Are You Active in the LGBTQ Community?

If you’re an active part of your LGBTQ community, moving into a gay neighborhood or even a retirement complex aimed at LGBTQ seniors can be a great way of continuing to play an active part in your new home. As you age, you may have to face the fact that your driving capabilities are no longer what they once were. By settling yourself in an LGBTQ community now, you can be sure you’re within walking distance of the local community center and other locations. Being able to walk to many locations can also help you maintain your health and watch your budget.

Are You Concerned About Hate Crimes?

Some seniors are worried that they will be unable to defend themselves should they be attacked or the victim of any sort of hate crime. Living in an LGBTQ neighborhood can help protect against this since you know your neighbors either identify as LGBTQ or are very supportive—otherwise, they likely wouldn’t live in the area. If you are concerned about safety, you’ll find that some gay neighborhoods are also gated communities, especially the newer areas conceived as housing developments. These locations can bolster your sense of security and may come with other amenities such as included yard maintenance.

No matter where you want to retire to, you may want to see if there’s a gay neighborhood in that area. Even if you aren’t looking to live specifically in a gay district, it can be a good place to start your house search.

Hell’s Kitchen – Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool You

Hell’s Kitchen is one of the more notorious-sounding neighborhoods in New York. Just based off the name, it certainly doesn’t sound like a place you’d want to move. While it’s true that the area did once have a poor reputation, in recent years it has undergone gentrification. While it was originally the home of many poor immigrants, today Hell’s Kitchen is populated by many actors and young professionals. It’s also one of New York’s primary LGBTQ communities.

How Hell’s Kitchen Got Its Name

Hell’s Kitchen Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool YouThe neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen is more officially known as Clinton, but few people call it that. It occupies the area between 34th and 59th and from Eighth Avenue to around 43rd Street. No one is actually certain how the neighborhood got its unique nickname. There are a few different stories. One claims that Davy Crockett coined the term while making horrible comments about the Irish immigrants in the area. Another says Hell’s Kitchen was originally used to describe a building on 54th Street but later expanded to the entire district.

Greenwich Village and the Gay Exodus

Greenwich Village was one of the first gay villages in New York City, but because of gentrification and other changes in the neighborhood, the cost of living has increased over the years. In the early 1990s, the neighborhood saw something of an exodus due to the expensive housing prices and other costs. Many gay and lesbian residents moved to nearby Chelsea. However, it didn’t take long for housing prices in this area to also skyrocket.

The gentrification in Chelsea led to a number of people moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood is now considered by some to be the new gay center of Manhattan. However, while it’s still more affordable than Greenwich Village and Chelsea, it’s true that costs are increasing in Hell’s Kitchen.

Points of Interest

One of the central locations in the Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ community is the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. This church is primarily focused on serving the LGBTQ community, though it does have members of all orientations and gender identities. The church was founded in Los Angeles, but it has moved several times until it found its current location in 1994.

The Actor’s Studio, an organization for actors, directors, and writers, is located in Hell’s Kitchen. A number of well-known actors have studied here under the direction of Lee Strasberg. The studio draws a number of aspiring actors to Hell’s Kitchen, many of whom live in the Manhattan Plaza.

The USS Intrepid is docked on the Hudson River Pier 86 on 46th Street. The aircraft carrier serves as the main part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which also includes a Lockheed A-12 plane, a submarine, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Interested in moving to Hell’s Kitchen? The many restaurants, studios, and other locations make it a great place for aspiring actors, directors, and writers. A gay or lesbian real estate agent can help you find the perfect place in this unique LGBTQ neighborhood.

Asbury Park, a Great LGBTQ Community in New Jersey

If you’re considering living in New Jersey, one of the areas you may initially think about avoiding is the Jersey Shore. Made infamous by the reality TV show, people have a misconception about this area. Not everyone is a Snooki or has a weird nickname like “The Situation.” Many people in the Jersey Shore area are incredibly nice and friendly, including those who live in the gay village of Asbury Park.

The Community

Asbury Park, a Great LGBTQ Community in New JerseyAsbury Park is a small city with around 16,000 people. Originally a small town, it’s grown over the years to reach its current population. Since it sits on the shore, it does have a beautiful beach area, but unlike some other parts of the Jersey Shore, it’s not a huge tourist destination. Some of he hotels that once sat on the beachfront have actually been demolished due to a lack of use. This means residents don’t have to worry too much about their neighborhood being invaded by tourists regularly.

The city does hold a number of live music events, festivals, and other events that do draw people in from around the area. Asbury Park is home to the New Jersey Music Hall of Fame and has a strong hip-hop community.

History of Asbury Park

Asbury Park was founded in 1871. Originally a residential area, the city soon expanded, adding a waterfront area, pavilion, restaurants, and many different hotels. Soon, more than 500,000 people were visiting the area during the summer for vacation. The population hit highs of 200,000 during tourist season, though that’s not always the case today.

By the 1920s, the town underwent a major change as a theater, convention all, and casino arena were added. Changes continued for the next several decades. The 1950s saw the addition of various suburbs, while the 1970s brought discord to the peaceful city after riots broke out in protest to the demolition of a number of historical buildings. This includes some buildings that were considered historic places.

From the 2000s on, Asbury Park has been in a revival period. The downtown area, the site of many of the demolished historical buildings, has been improved, as have the boardwalk and beached area.

The LGBTQ Community in Asbury Park

The LGBTQ community took root in the 1950s and has continued to grow over the years. Many LGBTQ people who are unable to afford the increasing cost of housing in New York City have moved to the area. Many have worked to restore the historic Victorian houses that make up some of the older parts of Asbury Park, gentrifying them into gorgeous properties. The Empress Hotel, a gay-oriented hotel, is a major attraction for those visiting the area. The city also hosts the Jersey Gay Pride festival every summer.

Interested in moving to Asbury Park? Ask a gay or lesbian real estate agent for more information about the properties available here.

Phoenix – A LGBTQ Haven in the Southwest

The southwest is known for its dry heat, native American influences, and deserts. It’s not exactly known for being an LGBTQ destination or a place to live, but Phoenix, Arizona, has a thriving gay and lesbian community. This metro area is gorgeous all year long, so if you love bright, sunny days, it may be the perfect place to call home. There’s a lot to do in both the LGBTQ community and in Phoenix as a whole.

Phoenix is home to dozens of luxury resorts, so there are many tourists here throughout the year. Many of these tourists and residents alike love taking hot air balloon rides or riding horseback through the unique landscape. Golf is another popular hobby in Phoenix, and the city has an astonishing 200+ golf courses. With shopping, art exhibits, and sporting events, there’s a ton to do in the city.

Phoenix’s LGBTQ District

Phoenix – A LGBTQ Haven in the SouthwestUnlike some cities, Phoenix doesn’t really have a major LGBTQ neighborhood. The city is very spread out, and the LGBTQ community is, too. Even though there’s not really a gay ghetto here, there are a number of LGBTQ-owned businesses in the Melrose District. You’ll also find the Central Phoenix LGBT Community Center there along with some great clubs and bars. The Phoenix Pride festival is held every year at Steele Indian School Park and brings in thousands of LGBTQ individuals and allies from Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

One of the more unique things about the Phoenix LGBTQ community is that it spreads out beyond Phoenix. Many of the suburbs and nearby cities that have grown into Phoenix have large gay and lesbian populations. Scottsdale, for example, has a thriving LGBTQ community thanks to the large arts movement there.

Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Apache Junction, collectively called the East Valley cities, also have a good number of LGBTQ communities. Arizona State University brings many younger LGBTQ individuals to Tempe, while Mesa is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona. Many have moved there in response to the commercial boom the city is experiencing.

No matter what brings you to the Phoenix area, it’s certainly a great place for LGBTQ individuals and families. Home prices in the area are reasonable, especially if you compare them to other large metros such as New York, LA, or Chicago. You’ll find many gay and lesbian real estate agents who can help you find the perfect home in Phoenix.

Should You Come Out to Your Real Estate Agent?

When buying a house as a member of the LGBTQ community, do you have to come out to your real estate agent? Should it matter what your orientation is or if your agent knows? It shouldn’t matter, although it does leave you open to discrimination, especially if you’re not working with a gay or lesbian agent. However, whether or not you do come out is up to you.

If You’re Married, It’s Important

Should You Come Out to Your Real Estate AgentIf you’re married, you’ll have to disclose that information when you’re applying for a mortgage. You’ll also want to have both of your names on the deed to the property. This means that your agent will need to know about your relationship. You’ll also have to come out to your lender and to the title company. The easy part about this is that you’ll “come out” in your paperwork. You don’t need to have any kind of conversation with anyone—they will see that you’re married on the loan information.

It’s Helpful in Some Situations

It can be helpful for your real estate agent to know that you’re looking for homes in the gay district or that are near LGBTQ businesses. Knowing that you’re a part of the community also means that your agent will know to show you homes in more accepting neighborhoods rather than those that tend to lean more conservative. Every piece of information you can give your agent will help them narrow the search and find homes that are absolutely perfect for you and your family.

It Depends on the Area

Of course, some cities and states are more conservative and less welcoming than others. If you’re looking for a home in one of these areas, you may not want to immediately come out to your agent. Even if you’re looking at homes with your partner, your agent may not immediately assume that you’re together. Some agents simply won’t care either way, and even those who aren’t supportive of the LGBTQ community will often be professionals. That’s not to say discrimination doesn’t exist—it does—but don’t assume that you will automatically be discriminated against.

If you’re single, there’s really no reason to say anything to your agent unless you want to. The same goes if you’re in a relationship, although your behavior towards your partner may give it away. If you’re at all concerned about being the victim of discrimination, find a gay or lesbian real estate agent. They’re more common than you might think.

What to Look for in a Gayborhood

If you’re ready to talk to a gay or lesbian real estate agent about moving into a gayborhood, you may be so focused on the overall area that you don’t stop and consider other aspects of where you’re moving to. Yes, it can be great being surrounded by other LGBTQ neighbors, but sometimes, a gay village has too many downsides to truly be the right place for you to move. Here are a few factors you should always take into consideration before you move to one of these neighborhoods.

Is it Conveniently Located?

What to Look for in a GayborhoodGay districts are often located in great parts of the city, but sometimes those locations simply aren’t that convenient for you. If you have to commute 30 minutes or aren’t in the right school district, you may need to weigh living in a gay neighborhood against being located closer to work or school. Even if you think the commute won’t be that bad, you may find yourself considering another move in a few years because you’re tired of it.

What Are Your Neighbors Like?

Many people love the idea of living near other LGBTQ individuals and families, but don’t stop and consider what their neighbors are really like. For example, some people aren’t comfortable or don’t see the need to make a big deal out of their sexuality. If you’re one of these people, are you really going to like living next to someone who has rainbow flags hung everywhere? If you like living on a quiet street, will you want to be near people who throw dinner parties or come home late at night after the clubs close?

Don’t simply look at your neighbors as LGBTQ people—look at them as the people they are. If you drive through the neighborhood and hear a lot of noise or see a lot of cars parked up and down the street on the weekends, you may not be happy there.

Do the Homes Meet Your Needs?

This is perhaps the most important question—are the homes in the gay neighborhood what you really need? You don’t want to buy a home that’s too small or too large for you and your family. You also don’t want to purchase a home that costs more than you can afford. Sometimes, moving into the gayborhood simply isn’t financially a good idea. When that’s the case, you shouldn’t hesitate to look elsewhere.

Wilton Manors – A Gay Village for Retirees

Wilton Manors in Florida is home to a very large LGBTQ population. Many of these individuals are retired individuals and couples who have moved to Florida to spend their golden years in peace. The city has the second highest percentage of LGBTQ residents to total population (behind Provincetown, MA), with 140 out of every 1,000 identifying as a member of the community. This 14% is much, much higher than the national average of 1.1% of the U.S. population, so if you want to spend time with other LGBTQ people, Wilton Manors is definitely one of the places to go!

The History of Wilton Manors

Wilton Manors – A Gay Village for RetireesWhile it may not play as big a part in the struggle for equality as gay villages in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, Wilton Manors still has an interesting history. It’s a somewhat young city—it was incorporated in 1947. Despite that, it quickly became a haven for LGBTQ individuals. As more and more LGBTQ people moved to Wilton Manors, related organizations came into the area. This led to the funding of the Wilton Manors Pride Center, a branch of the Stonewall National Museum, and the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center. The city’s police department features LGBTQ officers and a liaison officer, plus a number of elected city officials, including at least one mayor, have identified as members of the community.

Senior Living

In addition to the condos, apartments, and single-family homes that retirees can purchase in Wilton Manors, the city is also home to an LGBTQ senior housing complex. This development features more than 50 housing units, all of which are priced for the limited income retirees often find themselves with. They also offer extra features to help those in need, including assistance getting to doctor’s appointments and other locations.

A Great Location

While Wilton Manors isn’t a huge city—it has a regular population of a little over 11,000, although that number greatly increases during vacation season—it is located near Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park. Both of these cities are also home to a number of LGBTQ individuals and families, plus they offer many different shopping and dining options. The city is also considered a part of the Miami Metro Area, and thanks to several major highways, it’s easy to get to travel to many of the events Miami hosts.

Pricing in Wilton Manors

Wilton Manors does have a wide range of housing prices. Those who qualify for living in the senior living center may find that their housing costs fit nicely into their budgets. Those who are looking to purchase a home, though, may end up spending $500,000 or more depending on where in Wilton Manors they want to be located. A gay or lesbian real estate official can assist you with finding a home that fits your needs and your budget.

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not Understand

There are many great real estate professionals out there, and chances are any of them will be able to help you find the perfect home. However, there are some things that gay or lesbian real estate professionals will understand right away while straight agents may not. Here are a few things these real estate experts might not grasp right away and why going with an LGBTQ agent might be a better option for you.

They May Not Realize You’re a Couple

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not UnderstandSome straight real estate agents might assume you’ve brought a friend, or worse, your brother/sister, to look at the property with you. They won’t realize you’re looking for a home for the two of you. Correcting them can be a little stressful since you never know how they will react. An LGBTQ agent may ask if you’re together rather than assume you are.

They May Not Look for Family Homes

Another thing a straight real estate agent may do, often unconsciously, is assume that you won’t be starting a family. They may look for smaller homes for the two of you that simply won’t work for children. If you’re planning on starting a family either through adoption or surrogacy, it’s important to let them know upfront that you need a home that will support this. Some may assume that since the two of you can’t biologically have a child together, you’re not planning on a family.

They Sometimes Fall into Stereotypes

While even LGBTQ real estate professionals can do this, it’s more common for straight agents to stereotype gay and lesbian couples. They may assume that lesbian couples want a large shop for their home improvement projects or that gay men want very fashionable houses with a lot of color and extravagant décor. They might show you homes that play into these stereotypes at first, which can be frustrating.

They May Assume You Want to Live in the Gay District

If the city you’re moving to has a gay district, a straight real estate agent might assume that’s where you want to live. You might not have any interest in that area. A good agent, no matter what their orientation, should ask you upfront what part of the city you’re interested in or if there are any particular areas you need to be close to.

Overall, a straight real estate professional may simply make some assumptions. Often, they aren’t actively discriminating against you or purposely doing hurtful things. If you want to avoid any misunderstandings, though, working with a gay or lesbian agent will help you get your housing search off on the right foot.