Fighting for the PRIDE of Homeownership

By MNR News posted 06-06-2024 12:44 PM

The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, and its CEO Ryan Weyandt, are confronting the widespread prejudice and unjust laws that entrench discrimination
Homeownership is a fundamental right that provides stability and security, and a foundation for prosperity. Indeed, it is a pillar of American Democracy. Yet despite the Fair Housing Act’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the LGBTQ+ community faces stubborn barriers built from enduring prejudice. For some insight into the challenges, The Minnesota Realtor® reached out to Ryan Weyandt, founder and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that battles against discrimination for renters and homebuyers across the United States.

MNR: Why did you become an activist for LGBTQ+ and other social justice causes? Did you see overt discrimination? Or was it more subtle?

Ryan Weyandt (RW): Over the years I witnessed many forms of discrimination against minority groups, particularly my adopted older sister who is of mixed descent with white and black biological parents. She suffered at the hands of racists throughout her higher education journey. It was painful to watch someone I loved so much being attacked and assaultedmentally and physicallyjust for her appearance. I never knew what white privilege was as a white middle-class kid growing up in Farmington, MN, but I knew I had a voice that folks listened to, and that I could talk about what I was seeing. So, I started speaking out. 

When I was with Wells Fargo in
2012, I traveled to the head office in Des Moines, IA. While there, I met Gary Acosta, founder, and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), who spoke with our group. He encouraged me to take my passion and channel it into my community. That’s when I got involved. 

MNR: What is the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance’s mission? How do you measure success? 
RW: The Alliance advocates for fair housing for all and promotes LGBTQ+ homeownership. Additionally, it elevates professionalism in the industry through education and networking; and celebrates diversity and inclusion in our members and allied partners. Our motto is “Advocate. Elevate. Celebrate.” 

In three short years, the Alliance went from nothing to 4,000 members today. There are four pillars at the heart of what we do: advocacy, education, philanthropy, and business development. These things have enabled us to do incredible things from deploying national standardized educational trainings, to publications and collateral like our First Time Homebuyers Guide, to programing and development opportunities for consumers and members alike. Not only that, but we launched a consumer interface at LGBTQPlusHomes and the Stop Hate In Real Estate initiative, a joint effort across diverse segments in real estate title. 

MNR: The Alliance website states that “the LGBTQ+ homeownership rate of 49.8% is far below the U.S. average of 65.8%.” What factors contribute to such a large gap?
RW: It really is a perfect storm, and unfortunately with the federal government not able to track metrics on the LGTBTQ+ community, we must rely on data from educational and nonprofit entities. We know that the homeownership rate is lower because of discrimination, but what's more jarring is that fear of discrimination turns off or deters more queer homebuyers than anything else. Our first mission is to ensure that all queer folks across the country have the ability—which should not be confused with the meansto buy a home in a process that is free from discrimination. Economics are always a factor, and our first-time homebuyer population faces hurdles like anyone else. Sometimes, these challenges are made worse by complications related to queer homebuyers’ identities or orientation.  

Despite hurdles, the queer community is relatively affluent, with the American LGBTQ+ population making 12% of all home purchases last year.   

Another significant barrier for LGBTQ+ buyers is access to education about financing, buying, selling, renting. Many folks simply don’t know where to start. That’s why the Alliance launched LGBTQPlus Homes, a resource that helps members of the community learn about buying and selling, relocating, and other useful information. 

MNR: The website also states that “fear of any type of discrimination in the future home buying process is a concern for 46% of renters.” Can you provide some insight into their concerns?
RW: It's a mixed bag, really. Yes, renters suffer from higher levels of applied discrimination than buyers do in almost every scenario, both inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. Traditionally, many folks who are converting from rental to ownership also face a geographical shift. 

To read this article in the May/June digital issue of The Minnesota Realtor® magazine, click here.