By John Hayden
You sign the papers, use your door key for the first time, and immediately start making a mental list of projects to make your house a home. These are the joys of home ownership, but the joys are not felt equally in the LGBTQA+ community. Only about half own their own home, versus two-thirds of the overall population.
The LGBT Housing Initiative is a way to help bridge the gap.
The idea started in 2019 at a meeting of realty group Keller Williams’ Rainbow Network. The realtors decided to forego 25 percent of their commissions to simultaneously help people buy homes and give back to the community.
“It’s been amazing,” local Keller Williams agent Dave Gervase told OutClique. “Since April, we’ve been able to raise over $36,000 for the charity. Honestly it’s a win win. I’ve had several closings with clients taking the benefit and using the funds to help them get established in their new homes.”
Buyers get 20 percent of the commission while the other 5 percent goes to help LGBTQA+ homeless youth, a cause close to Gervase’s heart.
“Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and we need to do a better job of taking care of our future,” he said. “When I was a young gay man, my mentors were dying off but I was lucky enough to have a few gentlemen who had my back and were my mentors. It’s time for anyone as fortunate as I was to pay that forward to the next generation. These are kids who have been turned away by their families and need our help, support, and time.”
As for why there is such a disparity in LGBTQA+ home ownership, he says there are many reasons.
“First of all, we tend to gather in larger metro areas, and the cost of housing has skyrocketed. For many, home ownership isn’t even on the table. We’d love to end that.”
There is also still an anti-LGBTQA+ feeling in many hearts.
“I remember when my husband was up for a job in Texas and we went into an open house, the agent asked where our wives were,” Gervase recalled. “Housing discrimination is real, and The Housing Initiative is a vehicle to help people connect with professionals to help them while getting a benefit if needed.”
Gervase says the generosity is inspired by the unity he remembers from immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
“The kindness and hope that we had for each other was unlike I’d seen before, and somewhere over the last decade of divisiveness, it’s been lost. That time really inspired me to help whoever I can whenever I can. Why not work within my own community? This initiative can do so much to give LGBTQ people a hand up in helping achieve the American dream of home ownership, and more importantly, pour into the struggling of our next generation and give them more opportunity.”