by Tess Joseph
According to an August 2021 report from the Williams Institute, an LGBTQ+ public policy research center at the UCLA School of Law, just 25% of non-LGBTQ+ adults rent their homes, as compared to 41% of LGBTQ+ adults. Per the report, nearly half of LGBTQ+ renters who are behind on rent risk eviction within the next two months. Oliver Haug puts it clearly: this is a housing crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already-existing housing insecurity issues in LGBTQ+ communities. And in response, LGBTQ+ communities have organized. In February 2021, Queer the Land, a Seattle-based collaborative project, purchased a house to fill a critical gap for queer and trans people who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The same month, USA Today published an article about trans activists’ similar efforts throughout the South.
Throughout the country, LGBTQ+ folks have labored to keep their communities safe. But as Haug writes, “even as LGBTQ+ people struggle to stay afloat, they may not get the help they need from federal authorities.” In August, the same month the Williams Institute released its report, the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s eviction moratorium. The moratorium had offered protection to vulnerable tenants during the pandemic, including LGBTQ+ renters, and the 6-3 ruling to terminate it was, unsurprisingly, made along party lines. As The Hill previously noted, the conservative Justices argue that landlords were at risk of “irreparable harm” if the eviction freeze were to continue. In his dissent, Justice Breyer urges the Court to consider the irreparable harm to tenants.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision is devastating news for renters, and as the Williams Institute has shown, it’s especially devastating to LGBTQ+ communities. We at Woodhull Freedom Foundation are outraged at the Court’s blatant disregard of tenants’ health and safety, and we applaud the many folks who have organized to provide shelter to their communities. We know that stable housing is a fundamental human right, and we cannot enjoy our right to sexual freedom without it.
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