The high risk of homelessness

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2015 National LGBT Conference
20 July 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have no alternative but to rent homes in the private rental market, especially in areas of high property values, and that this disproportionately affects young LGBT people. This is compounded by the lack of social housing.

LGBT people may experience difficulties where they have come out over either their sexuality or gender identity and have been excluded from their family, or where landlords discover their sexuality or trans status and seek to evict them. In addition, there may be harassment, victimisation etc and damage to the property where a person becomes a target for homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime.

Conference welcomes indications by Labour to address issues around the rights of tenants and particularly for tenants in the private rental market.

Conference is shocked that young LGBT people are at higher risk of homelessness compared to their straight counterparts. Although there is little monitoring, research indicates that, in urban areas, 30 percent of young homeless people identify as LGBT.

Young people can find themselves in vulnerable positions because of their sexuality; many will have left home to escape homophobia and abuse from family members or partners. Sexual exploitation, mental health issues, physical and substance abuse are all bigger threats for homeless LGBT youths. These young people need access to specialist support services to ensure their futures.

Conference commends the work of charities like the Albert Kennedy Trust who, in 2014, provided 8,000 nights of accommodation for young homeless LGBT people across the country, yet, dishearteningly, in 2014 saw a 160 percent increase in demand for their services.

Specialist support and accommodation provided by local authorities and housing associations are currently minimal. This must change and charities should not be relied upon to provide drastically needed help.

Conference calls on the national LGBT committee to:

1. Campaign and lobby political parties, Westminster and devolved United Kingdom governments in order that specialist support for homeless LGBT youth is made a priority for local authorities;

2. Promote charities such as the Albert Kennedy Trust and urge branches to affiliate to such charities;

3. Highlight the issues on UNISON’s LGBT website, LGBT Monthly E bulletins, and ‘Out in UNISON’; and,

4. Engage with UNISON Labour Link to raise this issue.