Richmond-Based Realtors Learn about Fair Housing Opportunities
With fair housing month coming to a close, about a dozen Richmond based realtors joined Equality Virginia and Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) on Wednesday to learn more about ways in which they can support ending housing discrimination against LGBT Virginians. The breakfast reception was hosted by Weinstein Properties at their Kings Crossing property.
At the reception, Equality Virginia and HOME encouraged housing professionals and companies to join the new multistate campaign “Equality Means Business” designed to showcase businesses that know how vital LGBT customers and employees are to their success in a modern economy.
“Businesses that welcome LGBT customers and clients and take a stand for workplace non-discrimination deserve to be recognized for moving Virginia, the region, and indeed the whole country in the right direction,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.
Housing professionals including Weinstein Properties, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Second Act Communities, and Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation are among the newest members of “Equality Means Business.”
Joining this free campaign is simple. Small businesses in the housing industry and beyond can complete the membership form at www.virginiafairness.org/equality-means-business which guarantees that their LGBT employees and clients will not be denied employment or service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Participating individuals and businesses are listed in the Equality Means Business online directory and will receive marketing materials that will signal their support of inclusiveness.
Heather Crislip, President and CEO of HOME stated that, “Housing Providers are often the first contact that families have with their new location. It is vital for the housing industry to not discriminate in order to create diverse and thriving communities that are welcoming to all individuals. Housing opportunities should be based on someone’s ability to qualify, not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In 2014, HOME conducted a study into the prevalence of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Richmond rental market. HOME’s research showed a 31% rate of differential treatment by which same‐sex couples were treated worse than equally-qualified different‐sex couples in their search for housing. To read the findings, read this report, Housing Discrimination Against Same Sex Couples in Virginia.
State Delegate Marcus Simon (D‐Falls Church) said, “All Virginians should be treated equally in the housing market. This study raises serious doubts as to whether that is true for same‐sex couples in Virginia. I look forward to the day when all Virginians are judged on their merits when seeking a place to live and make their home.”
This past General Assembly session, the Virginia legislature had the opportunity to expand Virginia fair housing laws to protect sexual orientation and gender identity, joining 22 other states and DC that already outlaw discrimination on these bases. Unfortunately, HB 1454 (Simon, D‐Falls Church) and SB 917 (Wexton, D‐Leesburg) died early in the session. HJ 648 (Villanueva, R-Virginia Beach) offered a chance for the Housing Commission to study LGBT housing discrimination, but it too was killed in subcommittee.
“It makes no sense to consider someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity when deciding whether to rent or sell a home to them,” declared Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg). She continued, “Unfortunately, we know these considerations are blocking housing for LGBTQ Virginians. I plan to reintroduce legislation in 2016 to outlaw this invidious discrimination. In the meantime, housing providers can show their support for these important rights by joining Equality Means Business.”
The “Equality Means Business” campaign allows the housing industry to voice their support for the LGBT community in all housing transactions.
Equality Virginia is the leading statewide, non-partisan advocacy, outreach and education organization seeking equality for LGBT Virginians. EV believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
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