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Housing associations ‘need to do more for LGBT residents’

Nell Frizzell June 15, 2009
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Housing associations need to do far more for their LGBT residents, an industry expert has said.

Bill Payne, the former president of the Chartered Institute of Housing and current chief executive of the Metropolitan housing association, has spoken out against the sub-standard service experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans residents.

He told Inside Housing: “More desperately needs to be done by housing associations to address the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in housing.”

Speaking to, Payne said there is an initial need for organisations to simply be aware of the issues specifically facing LGBT residents.

“LGBT residents are in danger of abuse, hate crimes and bullying,” he said. “So it is simply not enough to say ‘all people should be treated the same’. It starts with awareness that there are issues.”

Payne also pointed out the specific dangers facing young gay people with housing needs, such as homelessness and prostitution.

A recent report by the Metropolitan Support Trust found that 60 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual asylum seekers experience ‘hidden homelessness’, in part due to the poor quality of LGBT support services.

According to Payne, one in five gay, lesbian and bisexual people to expect worse treatment by housing providers than their straight contemporaries.

However, the Metropolitan housing association, which covers London, the Midlands and Cambridgeshire, does offer specific help and advice for gay men escaping domestic violence. “As far as I am aware, we are the only organisation in the country that has a support service for residents experiencing same-sex domestic violence,” said Payne.

That they are the only support service of this type is something he described as “worrying”, particularly when it is considered that five per cent of relationships become abusive.

“The key thing,” argued Payne, “is that if you are in tune to the prejudices LGBT residents face, then that will help to deliver a better service to everyone.”

For Payne, the emphasis is not only on improving the support for LGBT residents, but in having a service that doesn’t make anyone feel different or at risk.

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