Af­ford­able hous­ing cri­sis hits trans com­mu­nity hard

GA Voice - - Front Page -

There’s no deny­ing that right now in At­lanta and the sur­round­ing metro area, we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a build­ing boom in of­fice space and hous­ing that we haven’t seen since be­fore the eco­nomic cri­sis of 2007-2008. Be­fore we pop a bot­tle of Moet and cel­e­brate our fab­u­lous­ness, how­ever, we should ask: who is this trend ben­e­fit­ing, and is there a down­side to all of this?

The un­for­tu­nate truth is that all this new pros­per­ity is push­ing prop­erty val­ues to new heights, rais­ing the rents for ev­ery­one and push­ing out those who can’t keep up. What of all those big new apart­ment build­ings with more than 50 units that are go­ing up all over town? A re­view of data pro­vided by Ren­tCafe, a rental search com­pany, found that 96 per­cent of all of those apart­ment build­ing are de­fined as “lux­ury” apart­ments – that is, tar­geted to those who could af­ford to buy, but choose to rent.

The pain of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion and ris­ing prop­erty val­ues is spread broadly across the work­ing class and low- and fixed-in­come pop­u­la­tion of metro At­lanta. For sex­ual, gen­der, racial and other mi­nori­ties, the prob­lem is more acute as we also have to deal with struc­tural dis­crim­i­na­tion on top of the broader eco­nomic trends in hous­ing. Re­cently, the Ur­ban In­sti­tute con­ducted a study in sim­i­lar cities of Dal­las, Wash­ing­ton, DC, as well as Los An­ge­les and found that gay, les­bian and trans folks were treated un­fairly com­pared to other in­di­vid­u­als seek- ing sim­i­lar hous­ing. Gay men in par­tic­u­lar were charged more for their hous­ing, and trans in­di­vid­u­als were of­fered fewer units of hous­ing gen­er­ally, re­gard­less of whether they dis­closed their gen­der iden­tity.

Bar­ri­ers to af­ford­able hous­ing in Ge­or­gia hit trans folks even harder. A re­cent na­tion­wide study by the Na­tional Cen­ter for Trans­gen­der Equal­ity of 614 trans Ge­or­gians found shock­ing lev­els of dis­crim­i­na­tion and home­less­ness: 27 per­cent of re­spon­dents ex­pe­ri­enced some form of hous­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion in the past year, such as be­ing evicted from their home or de­nied a home or apart­ment be­cause of be­ing trans­gen­der; 32 per­cent have ex­pe­ri­enced home­less­ness at some point in their lives; and 19 per­cent ex­pe­ri­enced home­less­ness in the past year be­cause of be­ing trans­gen­der.

I be­lieve we can do bet­ter in At­lanta – the cra­dle of civil rights, the city too busy to hate – for our work­ing class, for our gay and les­bian com­mu­ni­ties and for our trans and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple. The gov­ern­ment has largely with­drawn from cre­at­ing new af­ford­able hous­ing units. The de­vel­op­ers in the pri­vate mar­ket are un­will­ing to build af­ford­able units. Right now, if we want to make af­ford­able hous­ing a re­al­ity, it’s up to our com­mu­nity of com­mon in­ter­ests to cre­ate and sup­port af­ford­able hous­ing op­tions by pool­ing our re­sources and find­ing re­sources through phi­lan­thropy to sup­port hous­ing that is safe and ac­ces­si­ble to the most vul­ner­a­ble among us.

“If we want to make af­ford­able hous­ing a re­al­ity, it’s up to our com­mu­nity of com­mon in­ter­ests to cre­ate and sup­port af­ford­able hous­ing op­tions by pool­ing our re­sources and find­ing re­sources through phi­lan­thropy to sup­port hous­ing that is safe and ac­ces­si­ble to the most vul­ner­a­ble among us.”

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