The LGBTQ Community, Safe Shelter, & Fair Housing
Understanding the current policies and laws regarding the LGBTQ community in today’s social services and homeless outreach landscape is essential to not only maintaining funding, but also providing quality care to clients across Connecticut. The CT Coalition to end homelessness is running a series of trainings on these issues, including New Haven, Norwich, Manchester, Norwalk, and Middletown, and would be happy to host one with you and your team of service providers.
As trainer Alanna Kabel from the CT HUD emphasizes, service providers can actually lose funding or have it retracted for noncompliance with current Fair Housing laws requiring the equal treatment of LGBTQ individuals. The state and national HUD have also made funds available to update your facility to be in agreement with the new rules. Family and Single-Sex shelters must also accept transgender individuals based on their sexual identity, provide equal facilities and can not require documentation on sex, regardless of their appearance as conforming or not conforming to their sexual identity.
These strict, though somewhat broad, anti-discrimination requirements are being enforced for good reason. Transgender individuals may seem like a small portion of the overall population, but one in five transgender people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Perhaps the most disappointing factor is the failure of housing services to work with these individuals. Almost one third of Transgender homeless report having been turned away from a shelter because of their status, and even if they haven’t been turned away 42% have been forced to stay in a shelter of the wrong gender. These practices take place all over the U.S. and by being prepared and trained Connecticut can take the lead in inclusion and great care for members of these communities.
Providing safe shelters and fair housing for transgender individuals is more than just putting up a “Safe Space” poster, as presenter Cesar Aleman from the Connecticut Fair Housing Center explains. Your organizations must make sure that it is not discriminating in its policies regarding placement in single-sex shelters, bathroom use, gender or identity questions on forms or at intake, and in case of harassment. By being proactive and updating the systems, policies, or procedures that are not entirely inclusive of LGBTQ populations, which compose between 20-40% of the 1.6 Million homeless people in the U.S, you can keep your organization safe from discrimination issues and ensure the fair treatment of your clients.
- Don’t wait for there to be an issue to have a policy in place before LGBTQ clients walk in the door and make sure your staff has an understanding of their unique situation.
- See Trans individuals, or other members of the LGBTQ community, as people before their sexuality or gender identity. They are people, not problems.
- Seek Out Resources in your Community
- Trainings are available through CCEH as well as by contacting any of the trainers listed below, who would be happy to bring their presentation anywhere in Connecticut to talk to staff or community members.
- Have a conversation with any of these trainers on whether the current policies and procedures of your organization are following the Fair Housing requirements.
- Talk to other organizations in your area to discuss what policies and procedures they have put into place to prevent discrimination and better serve clients.
- Look into national and statewide HUD funding to update any systems or facilities currently in non-compliance on this issue.
- Visit the CCEH webpage on LGBTQ and look over available material to familiarize yourself with the issue.
- If you see something, say something.
- Regardless of your position in your organization, make treating the LGBTQ community equality a priority and bring up any issues of noncompliance that you encounter with others, before it becomes an issue.
Please contact CCEH or the following individuals to step up a conversation or training with you or your staff. Let’s work together to bring your organization under compliance of Fair Housing policies and provide the best possible services to the LGBTQ community across Connecticut.
Alanna C. Kabel
CPD Director, CT HUD
Community Outreach Coordinator, CT Fair Housing Center
Connecticut Trans-Advocacy Coalition
Deputy Director of Programs & Policy, AIDs CT
860-247-AIDS ext. 319
Contact the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness at firstname.lastname@example.org.