LGBT Renters and Eviction Risk

August 2021

Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, this brief examines rental housing stability late in the COVID-19 pandemic among LGBT people compared to non-LGBT people, including differences by race.

  • Bianca D.M. Wilson
    Senior Scholar of Public Policy, Former
  • Kathryn K. O’Neill
    Policy Analyst
  • Luis A. Vasquez
    Staff Attorney, Former
Nearly half of LGBT people behind on their rent fear eviction within the next two months.
LGBT people of color were more likely to be renters and to be behind on their rent compared to other groups.
The federal eviction moratorium was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in late August 2021.
Data Points
of LGBT adults rent their homes
of non-LGBT adults rent
of LGBT people of color rent their homes
of white non-LGBT people rent
of LGBT renters report being behind on rent
of non-LGBT renters report being behind
of LGBT people of color were behind on rent
of white LGBT people were behind
of LGBT renters behind of rent fear eviction
of non-LGBT renters fear eviction
of LGBT people of color feared eviction
of white LGBT people feared the same


Extensive research has demonstrated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face a number of barriers to stable housing, including affordability in places where they live,1 higher rates of poverty2 and lower rates of homeownership.3 However, little population-based data has been collected on the impact of COVID-19 on housing among LGBT people. The first study to do so was the Williams Institute’s analysis of economic and health outcomes during the Fall 2020 COVID-19 surge.4 That study found that more LGBT than non-LGBT people reported that their ability to pay rent or mortgage got worse during the pandemic, and these disparities were experienced the most by LGBT people of color. More data are needed, however, to continue tracking the impact of the pandemic across a diverse sexual and gender population over time. The U.S. Census Bureau has been collecting data through its Household Pulse Survey (HPS) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to measure the pandemic’s social and economic impacts. The most recent phase of Household Pulse Survey data collection, administered from July 21 through August 2 of this year, marked the first time that sexual orientation and gender identity data were collected by the Census Bureau.5 

Using the HPS data, we examine the proportions of LGBT people experiencing threats to rental housing stability late in the COVID-19 pandemic—issues likely to be of increased relevance in the coming months as federal eviction protections tied to the pandemic are set to expire. 


Economic stability and employment status provide an important context for housing stability, particularly for renters. As the Census Bureau reported, nearly 20% of LGBT people had experienced a loss of income, compared to 17% of non-LGBT people.6 Further, over a third of LGBT adults reported being in a household that had difficulty paying for usual expenses. One major household expense is rent, and here we report on renting status and three indicators of rental housing stability among LGBT people alongside rates for non-LGBT people, with an examination of differences by race. 

More LGBT people report renting their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to non-LGBT people, and LGBT people of color had the highest levels of renting compared to all other groups (Figures 1 & 2). Across these indicators of rental housing stability, LGBT and non-LGBT people are experiencing threats to their housing at statistically similar rates. However, there is evidence that LGBT people are slightly more likely than non-LGBT people to report not being caught up on rent (Table 1, 19% vs 14%). Nearly half of LGBT (47%) and non-LGBT (46%) renters who are not caught up on rent fear they may be evicted within the next two months. However, more LGBT people of color reported being behind on their rent compared to all other groups and had similarly high reports to non- LGBT people of color of fearing they could not make the next month’s rent and likely eviction. 

Note: Likely to experience eviction includes those that responded to this item that they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to be evicted. 


A key component of a person’s housing stability is whether they own or rent. While owning a home comes with financial risks and challenges, renters are often low-wage workers concentrated in industries likely to be impacted by declining economic activity,7 are paying increasingly larger shares of their income for housing,8 are competing over a decreasing stock of affordable units,9 and must regularly re-secure housing as their leasing contracts expire.10 Recent studies indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated risks of losing housing among renters throughout the country.11 The current federal eviction moratorium that is set to expire provides important protections to renters impacted by the pandemic. 

Numerous studies have documented that housing stability and access can vary greatly by race and ethnicity, gender, region, parental status, and marital status12—with some research suggesting that differences may exist across sexual orientation and gender identity lines.13 These findings indicate that racialized economic disparities persist during the pandemic, among all U.S. adults regardless of LGBT status. Further, LGBT POC adults are both more likely to be renters and to be behind on their rent compared to all other groups. Additional waves of data from the ongoing Household Pulse Survey will allow for more nuanced analysis by gender and race among LGBT people and may also reveal whether the slight differences between LGBT and non-LGBT people identified here widen. 

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LGBT Renters and Eviction Risk

O’Neill, K. K. (2020) Economic vulnerabilities to COVID-19 among LGBT Adults in California. Los Angeles, CA: Williams Institute 

Badgett, M. V. L., Choi, S. K., & Wilson, B. D. M., (2019, October). LGBT poverty in the United States: A study of differences between sexual orientation and gender identity groups. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute. lgbt-poverty-us/ 

Conron, K. (2019). Financial Services and the LGBTQ+ Community: A Review of Discrimination in Lending and Housing. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Financial-Services-Oct-2019.pdf 

Sears, B. Conron, K.J., & Flores, A.J. (2021). The Impact of the Fall 2020 Surge of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBT Adults in the US. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute, UCLA. 

 United States Census Bureau. (2021) Household Pulse Survey Data Tables. Accessed August 18, 2021.; Indicates first inclusion of gender identity measurement that avoids conflation of the concepts of sex and gender, and includes questions on both sex assigned at birth and gender identity.

File, T. & Marshall, J. (August 2021). Household Pulse Survey Shows LGBT Adults More Likely to Report Living in Households With Food and Economic Insecurity Than Non-LGBT Respondents. U.S. Census Bureau. 

Petek, G. (2021). How has COVID-19 affected renters and homeowners? Legislative Analyst’s Office, California. Publications/Report/4312 

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (May 2020). As More Households Rent, the Poorest Face Affordability and Housing Quality Challenges. GAO-20-427. 

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. (2019). The state of the nation’s housing. Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Kennedy School. 

Edelberg, W., Estep, S., Lu, S., & Moss, E. (April 2021). A Comparison of Renters and Homeowners in Recent Decades. The Hamilton Project. Brookings. 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (March 2021). Housing insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wilson, E. & Callis, R. R. (May 2013). Who Could Afford to Buy a Home in 2009? Affordability of Buying a Home in the United States. Current Housing Reports. United States Census Bureau. h121_13-02.pdf 

Wilson, B.D.M, Gordon, A.R., Mallory, C., Choi, S.K., Badgett, M.V.L., & LBQ Women’s Report Team. (2021). Health and Socioeconomic Well-Being of LBQ Women in the U.S. Williams Institute, Los Angeles.; Wilson, B. D. M., Choi, S. K., Harper, G. W., Lightfoot, M., Russell, S., & Meyer, I.H. (2020). Homelessness among LGBT adults in the U.S. Los Angeles, CA: Williams Institute.