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Half of LGBTQ people behind on rent fear eviction in next two months, report says

LGBTQ people of color and youth are especially at risk for eviction, which advocates say could affect their ability to find housing for years to come.

Some LGBTQ renters report not being caught up on rent and fear losing their homes in the next few months, according to a new report published just after the the Supreme Court struck down an extended eviction moratorium last week.

Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of LGBTQ renters report not being caught up on rent, compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ renters, according to the report by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer renters who are behind on rent are slightly more likely than non-LGBTQ renters who are behind on payments to fear eviction within the next two months, at 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

Researchers used data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, collected from July 21 to Aug. 2, to examine rental housing stability late in the Covid-19 pandemic among LGBTQ people compared to non-LGBTQ people, accounting for differences by race, according to a news release.

The report adds to growing research that shows the Covid-19 pandemic is having a harsher impact on LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color and LGBTQ youth.

The end of the eviction moratorium will have a similar disproportionate impact, according to the Williams Institute report, in part because LGBTQ people are more likely to rent their homes, at 41 percent, compared to non-LGBTQ adults, at 25 percent.

LGBTQ people of color were most likely to rent, at 47 percent, compared to 37 percent of white LGBTQ people — and they were more likely to report being behind on rent and fearing eviction.

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of LGBTQ people of color reported being behind on rent, compared to 10 percent of white LGBTQ people, 19 percent of non-LGBTQ people of color and 10 percent of white non-LGBTQ people.

Just over half (51 percent) of LGBTQ people of color who are behind on rent feared eviction in the next two months, compared to 38 percent of white LGBTQ people, 46 percent of non-LGBTQ people of color and 47 percent of white non-LGBTQ people.

Activists hold a protest against evictions near City Hall on Aug. 11, 2021, in New York.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

“A key component to a person’s housing stability is whether they own or rent,” lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the risk that LGBT people— and LGBT people of color in particular — will lose their housing as federal eviction protections are set to expire in October.”

But the Supreme Court struck down those protections last week in a 6-3 opinion that said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its authority and that Congress would have to authorize the moratorium.

Evictions can now resume unless a state or local jurisdiction has implemented its own moratorium. Six states — California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington — and the District of Columbia have their own moratoriums in effect that aren’t affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.

The CDC issued the more limited order earlier this month for parts of the country with "substantial" or "high levels" of community transmission of Covid-19 — which currently includes almost the entire country. The order also said new variants of Covid-19, such as the delta variant, "have evidence of an increase in transmissibility, which may lead to higher incidence."

However, some LGBTQ people are among the more than 3.5 million renters nationwide who have been unable to pay their full rent and are "likely" or "very likely" to face eviction, according to another Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey taken in early August.

Previous research from the institute found that LGBTQ people of color are nearly twice as likely as non-LGBTQ people to test positive for Covid-19, and they are twice as likely to report being laid off from their jobs during the pandemic.

LGBTQ people are also more likely than the general population to work in industries that have been more affected by Covid-19, such as the service industry, and are more likely to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid medical leave and basic necessities, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group.

Three-fourths (74 percent) of LGBTQ people said pandemic-related worry and stress has negatively affected their mental health, compared to 49 percent of non-LGBTQ people, according to a March analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

LGBTQ youth experienced worse mental health, a July 2020 poll from Morning Consult and The Trevor Project found. Nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ respondents said they experienced increased loneliness since the pandemic began, with 55 percent reporting symptoms of anxiety and 53 percent reporting symptoms of depression in the two weeks before the poll.

Advocates have also said LGBTQ youths' risk of homelessness — which is higher than that of non-LGBTQ youths — was exacerbated by the pandemic because it forced some of them to spend more time at home with unsupportive family.

Now, that risk will grow even more with the end of the eviction moratorium, and it could impact LGBTQ youths' ability to find housing for years to come, said Dylan Waguespack, public policy and external affairs director at True Colors United, a nonprofit group addressing LGBTQ youth homelessness.

"We know that eviction has lifelong consequences for people — specifically evictions done through the court system," Waguespack said. "We see those evictions basically follow people for the rest of their lives. It makes it so much harder to get that next apartment, and even the one after it and the one after that."

A study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, which conducts public policy research on issues affecting children and families, found that LGBTQ youth had a 120 percent higher risk of homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth.

Eviction can put young LGBTQ people in dangerous situations, according to a True Colors United news release about the end of the eviction moratorium. It can put youth at a higher risk of exploitation by traffickers and jeopardize their ability to stay in school and receive health care, the release added.

Waguespack said many LGBTQ youth don't have access to safe shelters where they live. He noted the Biden administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development is making a significant effort to enforce nondiscrimination protections at federally funded shelters, but many shelters aren't federally funded.

He added that it will take a long time for LGBTQ people, including youth, to feel safe accessing a shelter after potentially having faced discrimination.

"It's going to take effort to rebuild that trust," he said.

In the meantime, he said True Colors United believes it is "critical" for Congress to pass an eviction moratorium.

"There's just no way that we're going to be able to keep folks housed throughout this crisis if all we’re depending on is sort of continued efforts around various court rulings," he said. "We need something in place that captures everyone and that keeps folks in their housing until we actually see a significant change in what this pandemic looks like economically."

He encouraged anyone facing eviction, especially LGBTQ youth, to contact a fair housing organization in their area to find out whether there are local policies in place that could help.

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