‘We’re crying out for something different’: ensuring every LGBTQIA+ Londoner has somewhere safe to call home 

An LGBTQIA+ campaign group has launched its second Queer Housing Manifesto ahead of the mayoral elections next week. 

The London Queer Housing Coalition (LQHC) manifesto calls attention to the chronic lack of provision of safe and secure housing for LGBTQIA+ people living in the capital. 

Its six recommendations include the creation of an LGBTQIA+ housing strategy for London and more coordinated data collection on the accommodation needs and aspirations of LGBTQIA+ Londoners. 

First formed as the London LGBTQIA+ Community Housing Coalition (LLCHC) in 2019, the London Queer Housing Coalition’s steering group comprises six LGBTQIA+ housing and homelessness organisations. 

Tonic Housing, the UK’s first LGBTQIA+ retirement community, is currently a member of the LQHC’s steering group.

A group of older LGBTQIA+ people and Tonic residents, surrounded by multicoloured balloons and wearing t-shirts that say "Tonic"

Image credit: Tonic Housing

Tonic’s Director of Operations, Bob Green, told South West Londoner that older LGBTQIA+ people face specific challenges with regard to housing. 

Of 624 older LGBTQIA+ people surveyed by Tonic Housing, Stonewall Housing and Opening Doors in 2020, one quarter (25%) said they had a disability or health issue which required specific housing – 57% of whom revealed they did not receive any care or support. 

Green explained: “For a lot of older people I’ve met through the years, it was assumed that people would make do. 

“If you’re older, you just have to be satisfied with what you get. So many older LGBTQ+ people are feeling isolated and may not have family or friends. 

“We’ve created that sense of community here at Tonic – not simply through the staff but the residents themselves.”

But despite Tonic’s success and the current Mayor of London being largely receptive to LGBTQIA+ housing projects, Green said the broader situation has barely improved since 2021 – and perhaps worsened. 

He said: “What we need, rather than a project here and a project there, is coordinated, strategic thinking. 

“We need someone to help us map the services across London. Where are the gaps? Can we meet those gaps? How should we do it? 

“And how do we get the LGBTQ+ community involved in developing the solutions?” 

This year’s Queer Housing Manifesto emphasises the importance of a community-led approach, where LGBTQIA+ groups are involved in the decision-making process from start to finish.

Just as important, however, is ensuring that all initiatives are properly resourced. 

It was a £5.7 million loan from the Mayor of London in 2021 that allowed Tonic to purchase 19 properties in Vauxhall, Lambeth, which are sold on a shared ownership basis and held as community assets. 

Green said: “LGBTQ+ groups have the desire and the ambition to create solutions – but we need resources and people to actually involve us in the decision making. 

“We created an LGBTQ+ retirement community, the dream of LGBTQ+ groups for many years. 

“And now that has happened – because someone took a chance and gave us a loan.”  

Green was also alert to how harmful media narratives have taken a significant emotional toll on the LGBTQIA+ community, in recent years.

“There’s a lot of ‘culture wars’. People are living in fear at the moment because of the stress they have to go through, just from reading the news or online comments. 

“We need to be giving our communities somewhere to be their authentic selves because at the moment there’s too many people living in fear, too many people living through trauma.”

Featured image credit: Tonic Housing

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