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For some people, it might be easy to think the fight for LGBT+ equality has been won. As many who lean a little more to the right of the political compass continually tell us, there's same-sex marriage after all.

But with homophobic hate crimes on the rise since Brexit and the right wing media continually attacking our trans siblings, the struggle is indeed still real.

And the latest issue that's been brought to light? The treatment of LGBT+ people in social housing or affordable accommodation, and their feeling of belonging in their local communities.

A new study from the University of Surrey and Goldsmiths, University of London, has found that almost 50 percent of LGBT+ people living in social housing accommodation do not feel a sense of belonging in their local community, while more than a quarter report feeling lonely in the area they live.

Researchers also found that 60 percent of trans people and more than a third of LGBT+ people on the whole feel unsafe in their neighbourhoods.

In the largest study of its kind in the UK, researchers commissioned by HouseProud conducted a series of interviews, focus groups and surveys with more than 260 LGBT+ people living in social, or affordable, housing to ask them about their experiences.

Harassment.

...and how it was dealt with by housing providers was an issue raised during the study, with many LGBT+ people asked reporting feelings of ambivalence on how this was tackled by housing associations and local authorities.

It found that 34 percent of LGBT+ people felt housing providers have more work to do in dealing effectively with complaints about harassment – with some saying their complaints were not taking seriously or were investigated slowly.

It is believed a lack of understanding of the LGBT+ community, high staff turnovers and a shortage of training were to blame.

Self-censoring their homes.

Researchers also found that many LGBT+ people were concerned about inviting people into their home who they didn't know, with 21 percent being uncomfortable with repair or maintenance people, and 25 percent feeling uneasy about their landlord.

A significant number of people reported concealing evidence of their gender identity or sexuality, such as moving pictures, books or DVDs.

This was more common among gay men, with 20 percent indicating they 'always' or 'most of the time' did this when being visited by a landlord or repairs person.

Dr Andrew King, co-director of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender, who was the lead researcher on the project at the University of Surrey, said:

Despite changes in equality laws, it is disappointing and worrying that in 2018 a significant number of social housing tenants still feel unsafe and experience harassment in their own neighbourhoods.

What we have seen is that many feel that their concerns and complaints are not being given proper attention by housing providers.

To help address this, social housing providers need to improve the lines of communication between staff and residents, and develop supportive procedures to deal with complaints of abuse and harassment. Housing providers also need to be more openly LGBT+ supportive, train their staff on a regular basis and as some people we interviewed put it ‘go above and beyond’ the basic requirements of equality legislation.

LGBT+ social housing tenants need to know they are valued tenants who are treated fairly and with respect.

These small steps should help engage LGBT+ social housing residents and ensure they are a part of the community where they live.

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