Survey: Most LGBTQ+ individuals experience discrimination in housing

Zillow is working for change through advocacy, product innovation and partnerships

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More than three-quarters of LGBTQ+ individuals in a recent Zillow survey said they have experienced housing discrimination based on their identity — at 79%, it’s the most of any group in the survey. 

Although individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are somewhat protected by fair housing laws, only a patchwork of cities and 23 states offer explicit fair housing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While the Fair Housing Act is now being interpreted as protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination, enforcement of these protections may not go far enough, and may not be permanent.

At Zillow, we are committed to improving fairness in housing by advocating for policies, innovating new products and partnering with organizations to help make home a reality for more people. Here’s a look at some of the ways we are working for meaningful change in the U.S. real estate industry.

Innovative tech that empowers equality

A recent innovation, Zillow’s Fair Housing Classifier is a first-of-its-kind technology promoting unbiased behavior in AI chatbot conversations about real estate. Simply put: Many chatbots are powered by big datasets called large language models (LLMs). Out of the box, many of these LLMs do not consider fair housing implications in conversations with users. Because of this, when they are deployed, they can perpetuate bias. To address this, Zillow has built the Fair Housing Classifier, which creates “guardrails” to prevent those AI conversations from reinforcing bias.

Zillow is offering this technology for free — as open-source — to any real estate, technology company, government agency and more that can use it. Why does this matter? With millions of Americans searching for housing online daily, our classifier helps to equip the entire industry with AI-powered tools that make finding a home more equitable and transparent for everyone. 

“In today’s rapidly evolving AI landscape, promoting safe, secure and trustworthy AI practices in housing and lending is becoming increasingly important to protect consumers against algorithmic harms,” said Michael Akinwumi, Ph.D., of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “Zillow’s open-source approach sets an admirable precedent for responsible innovation.”

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) works to eliminate housing discrimination through education, outreach, public policy, advocacy and beyond. To build a more equitable future for all homeowners, NFHA provides a wide variety of resources, research data and tools for professionals and consumers. Read about its programs on the NFHA website.

A spotlight on Local Legal Protections 

Originally a grassroots effort led by the Zillow LGBTQ+ Pride employee resource group, the LGBTQ Local Legal Protections tool is now found on every Zillow listing. It displays the local laws that are (or are not) in place to protect fair and equal treatment in housing, employment and public accommodations, based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Many states and local governments have taken much needed steps to protect LGBTQ+ individuals, and this tool makes information easy to find and accessible to everyone. Since its 2020 launch, the Local Legal Protections tool has helped millions of LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies quickly identify whether their rights are protected by local laws, so they can make the best decision possible when searching for housing.

Partnering for change

Zillow partners with organizations that are dedicated to driving meaningful change in fair housing laws and practices throughout the industry. 

Established in 2020, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance was founded by leading industry professionals to work with the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to create a new voice in real estate. The alliance’s mission is to promote LGBTQ+ homeownership and celebrate diversity and inclusion among members and allied partners. It also helps prospective home buyers connect with LGBTQ+ real estate professionals to work with on their housing journey. Backed by a growing network of professionals, partners and allies, the alliance advocates for state and federal laws that protect and empower members of the LGBTQ+ community on their path toward homeownership. 

“Until the Fair and Equal Housing Act is passed, LGBTQ people will be subject to discrimination in the home buying and rental process. Innovations like Zillow’s Local Legal Protections tool that LGBTQ buyers can use to find out the protections available to them are vital step in the right direction,” said Ryan Weyandt, founder and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. 

Advocacy is and has always been at the heart of our mission to make home a reality for more people. As an industry leader, we will continue to use our voice and our cutting-edge technologies to help make housing  fairer and more accessible to all. 

To follow along with our year-round anti discrimination efforts and the policies we advocate for, check out our real estate rights for consumers or explore our research reports on fair housing.

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Zillow’s mission to support fair housing