Before the 13th July,  private renters were unable to move into homes that they could afford- just because they received housing benefit. Landlords and letting agents were able to discriminate against those on housing benefit by putting in place ‘no benefits’, ‘no Universal Credit’ and ‘no DSS’ policies, which prevented private renters who receive housing benefit from accessing homes.  As women and disabled people are most likely to receive housing benefit, it meant that for years they faced indirect discrimination.  

The Equality Act protects against unlawful indirect discrimination on protected characteristics like sexual orientation, disability or race.  On the 13th July, District Judge Victoria Elizabeth Mark ruled that these policies were in breach of sections 19 and 29 of the Equality act, by indirectly discriminating on the grounds of sex and disability. 

This landmark ruling now means that we have formal clarification that DSS discrimination is unlawful. We congratulate Shelter on the success of their ‘End DSS Discrimination’ campaign and stand behind them in their efforts to end housing benefit discrimination permanently- an issue that will improve the lives of many of our young people.  

However, we  know that housing benefit discrimination is not only thing that affects LGBTQ+ young people’s ability to find safe and affordable housing. The fact still remains that many LGBTQ+ young people may find themselves discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most people do not have to worry about whether they will be subjected to transphobic, homophobic and biphobic abuse by housemates they may have not met yet when looking to rent a room. They will also not have to worry about whether their landlord will treat them differently because they are LGBTQ+. 

These are the everyday experiences of our young people. This discrimination expands further when you are LGBTQ+, young and POC. To even secure a viewing many of our POC young people feel that they have to anglicise their names. LGBTQ+ POC young people and in particular, Black LGBTQ+ young men, when following up after viewing a room will be told that their room has suddenly become unavailable. It is not uncommon for them to then find out that the room is still being advertised. 

24% of young people in UK who are homeless or at risk of homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, pointing to how homelessness disproportionately affects queer young people. 53% of our young people (77% in London) are POC, 27% are trans (52% in Newcastle) and  67% (76% in London) have some form of disability. We will continue to work towards ending LGBTQ+ youth homelessness and lead on the fight against discrimination in housing on grounds like disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Everyone deserves a life without discrimination and a safe roof over their head.

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