Housing with Pride: Working together to create LGBTQ+ inclusive social housing
Led by Professor Andrew King, this ESRC IAA project expands on ground-breaking research between HouseProud (a networking group for LGBTQ+ people working in social housing), and The University of Surrey.
LGBTQ+ residents often experience discrimination in their everyday lives, including in relation to their housing and in 2017 Houseproud commissioned Professor King to run the No Place Like Home study, which was the largest ever undertaken in the UK in order to understand LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of social housing.
The research found that 60% of trans people felt their neighbourhood was an unsafe place to live and one in five gay men reported modifying their home in some way (e.g. moving pictures or books) to hide their sexual orientation from a visiting repairs operative or housing officer. A third of respondents also felt that their housing provider was not able to deal effectively with issues like harassment.
Further funding from Houseproud, the University of Surrey and a number of social housing providers enabled the development of a Pledge Scheme, an equality framework that all organisations providing social housing can sign up to, to demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ+ resident equality and support.
Launched in May 2019, the Pledge Scheme was endorsed by the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, London and has now been adopted by 16 social housing providers, representing over 1 million housing units in the UK.
This new IAA project will significantly extend the achievements of the Pledge Scheme, improving knowledge exchange, and make a national impact in the way that social housing providers listen to, engage with and support their LGBTQ+ social housing residents.
The project also responds to the UK Government’s Social Housing White Paper (2020), ‘A Charter for Social Housing Residents,’ by ensuring that housing providers listen to residents’ voices and concerns and include them in responses and decision making.
The project represents a collaboration between HouseProud, the University of Surrey, Stonewall Housing, Opening Doors London, Tonic Housing, plus a number of social housing providers and most importantly LGBTQ+ residents.
Specific outcomes for the project include: producing an educational and good practice toolkit for social housing providers to use in staff education, training and development work; creating the UK’s first National LGBTQ+ Residents Forum to ensure that LGBTQ+ residents’ voices are brought together, amplified and can impact at national policy-maker levels; and ensuring the sustainability and governance of the Pledge Scheme in the longer-term by attaining cross-sectoral collaboration and co-funding.
A fundamental aim of the Housing with Pride project was to secure the Pledge Scheme. In order to achieve this, three key activities were undertaken: a Pledge Scheme sustainability workshop; creating and implementing a Pledge partnership process; and undertaking a Pledge Pulse survey to ascertain current engagement with the scheme and obtain feedback on ways it could be improved.
Future directions of the Pledge Scheme identified in this project:
- Formation of a Pledge Scheme Oversight Board – including remit, roles & responsibilities, membership (number, affiliation), a separate community panel, and terms of reference.
- Partnership/workshop with Rainbow Roofs and HouseProud North West to bring residents from Housing with Pride and the Pledge Oversight Board and Community panel together.
- Develop and make available (via Pledge partner websites) educational materials including case studies of existing Pledge signatories.
The ‘Housing with Pride’ project intensified the impact of the Pledge Scheme and incorporated resident voices into the design, delivery, auditing and future sustainability of the Pledge.
It has ensured issues around the governance and sustainability of the Pledge Scheme are addressed, and it has enabled the launch of a National LGBT+ Resident forum, a ground-breaking milestone in the social housing sector in the UK and a significant development in terms of the Government’s new housing charter.
The work has had a significant impact on LGBTQ+ social housing residents, whose voices, and concerns have been magnified through active participation in the delivery of the Pledge Scheme, putting their issues and concerns on a national stage.
Social housing providers have been supported in actioning the Pledge Scheme with additional learning resources and resident input, and impact has been achieved for leading LGBT+ organisations in the housing sector, who will be able to develop and extend collaborations to improve services with and for LGBTQ+ residents.
The Housing with Pride project was formed during a challenging time for housing providers, social housing residents (particularly LGBTQ+ residents), and those undertaking equality, diversity, and inclusion work. The pandemic had exacerbated existing inequalities and created new ones and the social housing sector, as a whole, seemed to still be recovering from this turbulent period.
The Housing with Pride project met its objectives, particularly its key objective of securing a Pledge partnership to put the Pledge Scheme on a secure and sustainable trajectory. Yet there remain many aspects of the work that commenced as part of the project that are still to be continued. This is particularly the case regarding the involvement of LGBTQ+ residents in the governance of the Scheme and ensuring that residents voices are heard within the wider sector.
The new Pledge Partnership, between HouseProud and Stonewall Housing, with the continued involvement of the University of Surrey offers a sustainable path for the Pledge Scheme to develop and grow.
The Housing with Pride project recommends an early intervention between the parties to (a) increase resident involvement in Scheme governance and accreditation (b) develop educational training materials further, including bespoke ones for specific providers and (c) the commitment to the creation of a national LGBTQ+ residents’ forum.
A longer-term (3-5 year) aim is to secure funding for a new, empirical study, similar to ‘No Place Like Home’ in which the team will measure the extent that organisational changes made through putting these schemes into practice in social housing have translated into better resident experiences. This IAA project is a step towards that goal.