Housing

Don't forget LGBTIQA+ homelessness in London mayoral elections, urges charity

LGBTIQA+ homelessness charities and housing groups have called on London Mayor candidates to 'significantly improve the livelihood of LGBTQ+ Londoners'

LGBTQ+ homeless

Charity akt want the next London Mayor to implement a housing strategy to help LGBTQ+ youngsters. Image credit: Mercedes Mehling /Unsplash

The next London Mayor must put a housing strategy in place to help LGBTIQA+ people out of homelessness, according to a new manifesto from a coalition of LGBTIQA+ charities and housing groups.

Just two days before Londoners go to the polls on May 6, the London LGBTIQA+ Community Housing Coalition has urged candidates to promise to produce the strategy if they are voted into City Hall as well as working with local councils to improve pathways off the streets for homeless people who identify as LGBTIQA+.

The London LGBTIQA+ Community Housing Coalition includes housing association Tonic as well as Stonewall Housing, LGBTIQA+ shelter The Outside Project and charities Stonewall, Microrainbow, Consortium and akt. An akt spokesperson told The Big Issue: “We know from our frontline services how crucial the recommendations outlined in this manifesto are in addressing LGBTIQA+ homelessness throughout the capital.

“As London navigates a post-Covid landscape we hope we can work constructively with the next Mayor of London to implement these recommendations and significantly improve the livelihood of LGBTIQA+ Londoners.”

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Akt research shows nearly one in five people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, asexual, plus other sexual orientations and gender identities have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives and while almost one quarter of young people facing or experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTIQA+.

In London as many as 450,000 citizens identify as LGB, according to Public Health England figures, and the manifesto calls for greater protection for the community in the English capital.

As well as a housing strategy and a path off the streets, the charity wants a greater role in decision-making for the people they protect. Akt have asked for a Greater London Authority portfolio role for LGBTIQA+ housing as well as involvement in the London Recovery Programme to have a say on how the city bounces back from Covid-19. 

The charity also called for the next London Mayor to back greater awareness training for commissioners and delivery staff to ensure LGBTIQA+ people are considered in housing projects across London.

What do the manifestos say?

So far, Green Party hopeful Siân Berry is the main candidate vowing to create a LGBTQ+ housing strategy if she comes out on top in the May 6 vote. Berry has promised to make London more ‘trans inclusive’ and to increase support and targeted information for young people, families and LGBTIQA+ people facing homelessness.

In his manifesto, current incumbent Sadiq Khan has promised to invest in emergency specialist safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse to prevent homelessness. That includes safe spaces for those with no recourse to public funds, LGBTIQA+ and male victims needing to flee their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Labour candidate Khan has also promised to “work closely with local councils and charities” to help young LGBTIQA+ Londoners avoid homelessness.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt has promised to “continue to be a proud ally to the LGBTIQA+ community” in her manifesto. Porritt has vowed to ensure police respond to hate crimes against LGBTIQA+ people as well as pushing central government to reform the Gender Recognition Act to “defend and extend trans rights”.

Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey’s manifesto does not mention any proposed actions for the LGBTIQA+ community. But he has pledged to build 100,000 homes and sell them for £100,000 each to help people on to the housing ladder through shared ownership homes. 

He also promised to direct a portion of Housing for London funds towards supplying accommodation that is specifically designed for homeless people with complex needs.

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