Written evidence submitted by Professor Andrew King [RSH 033]
I am writing on behalf of the Steering Committee of Housing with Pride, a project consortium of LGBT+ social housing residents, LGBT+ organisations (HouseProud, Stonewall Housing, Tonic Housing, Opening Doors London), independent housing consultants and researchers at the University of Surrey, including myself.
We wish to supply evidence addressing the question of whether the regulation of social housing is fit for purpose. We do not believe it is, unless the regulator considers the diversity of social housing residents, particularly that the regulator understands and acts to properly take account of the needs of those residents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans (LGBT+).
In 2017-18, the University of Surrey conducted the UK’s largest study to date on the experiences, concerns and housing preferences of LGBT+ social housing residents. The research study included focus groups, interviews and a survey. Published as the ‘No Place Like Home’ Report by HouseProud (https://www.houseproud-lgbt.com/pledge) it highlighted that:
Above all, the research showed that LGBT+ social housing residents wanted their housing providers to be regulated: to show that they were adhering to equality legislation and were supportive and inclusive organisations; and that housing providers recognise and respond to the diversity of their residents’ lives, including LGBT+ lives.
The Housing with Pride project consortium is dedicated to addressing these issues and tackling the erasure of diversity and the inequalities this perpetuates for LGBT+ social housing residents e.g., poor service, discrimination. One way of achieving this is the HouseProud Pledge Scheme, which we have developed so that social housing providers can achieve this goal. It is an easy-to-use framework for social housing providers to work with their LGBT+ social housing residents to be more inclusive and responsive organisations. The Pledge Scheme has two levels:
The Housing with Pride Steering Committee wants to bring this work to your attention, to highlight the importance of including equalities related to the diversity of sexualities and gender in how social housing is regulated, and to ensure that all social housing residents are heard and treated with equality, dignity, and respect. We strongly urge the regulator to direct social housing organisations towards this important work. Until social housing providers improve how they involve and communicate with LGBT+ residents it will be difficult to measure how satisfied they are with current regulations because many may not engage with their providers for fear of discrimination.