© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

The Rainbow community are facing housing barriers

Ruby Turnbull

The need for an emergency housing unit in Christchurch is continually growing, as homelessness in the Rainbow community remains high.

Those who identify as LGBTQIA+ are disproportionally represented in the statistics for homelessness in New Zealand. 

Census data from 2013 shows 15 percent of transgender people ran away from their home or were kicked out because of their gender.  

In addition to this, transgender people who have been rejected by family members, are twice as likely to experience homelessness as to those who were not rejected. 

This exacerbated the correlation between lack of acceptance of identity and homelessness.  

Therese Go from RainbowYOUTH said emergency housing services were not trans or gender diverse friendly, making it difficult for people in this community to find a home. 

Go said that it was even more difficult for the community to find permanent houses in New Zealand due to discrimination and low incomes. According to the Counting Ourselves survey, 68 percent of queer, gender-diverse, and intersex young people have an annual income less than the NZ median income.

Re: News speaks to Therese Go and Tycho Vandenburg from RainbowYOUTH about the factors that make it harder for queer youth to find safe housing.

Victoria Giles, is a member of the Clan Blue Feather group, which researches LGBTQIA+ issues and educates the public.

Giles said she had dealt first hand with discrimination having been rejected many times when applying for a house. As a result of this, she has been living in a converted garage.

"The only place my partner and I could find that would accept us was a converted garage, with no underfloor or ceiling insulation."

Giles has a number of friends in the Rainbow community that have been kicked out by families and friends and don't have adequate money to find a place to live. 

"We have an 18-year-old on our couch every two to three weeks, who has been kicked out of their home." 

QTopia executive director Alice Andersen said homelessness was a growing concern for the community. 

Qtopia is a Christchurch non-profit organisation that aims to build inclusive environments and safe spaces for the Rainbow community.

Child psychologist Lisa Moffat said being kicked out of home because of your identity could cause high distress. 

"The combination of a lack of emotional and physical safety, plus a sense of powerlessness would be highly traumatising," Moffat said.

"Having a safe place to call home is vital for everyone, as it is a reflection of who we are and is a sanctuary to regroup and restore ourselves."