Case Study

LGBTQ Poverty Agenda Project

A growing body of research on poverty, food insecurity, and other indicators of economic insecurity has made visible the truths that many LGBTQ people are poor and lack food security, that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGI) makes LGBTQ people vulnerable economically, and that downswings of the economy also affect LGBTQ people significantly. These data on LGBTQ poverty generally, and on vulnerable subgroups in particular, indicate that a complex interaction of LGBTQ, race, and gender- related issues are relevant to our understanding of the pathways into and out of poverty.

To date, there is very little public discourse on LGBTQ people as a group that experiences poverty, and there is a dearth of research on the experiences of this population. In addition, the LGBTQ movement has no formal engagement with issues of poverty, economic inequality or economic opportunity. This project addresses both the gap in research and activism through consultation, policy analysis and organizing in order to develop a policy agenda that can address poverty in LGBTQ communities at the national and state level.

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The Williams Institute, UCLA Law School and the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative


To develop a national policy agenda that addresses LGBTQ poverty through research, convening and consultation.


Through outreach, consultation, research and policy analysis, and coalition building, over a 24-month period, the Vaid Group will develop a national policy agenda to address LGBTQ Poverty, and organize coalitions to address poverty in this country overall. The Vaid Group is working in partnership with the Williams Institute, the Center for American Progress, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Lexbian Rights and the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative to convene and consul with grassroots, national, academic, policy and non-LGBTQ poverty advocates.

The Policy Agenda Project will operate in three stages: (1) research and consultation, (2) policy development and communication, and (3) coalition building and ongoing advocacy. In the research and consultation stage, from September 2015 – July 2016, the Project Team will convene scholars, researchers from poverty think tanks, service providers, LGBTQ advocates, grassroots activists and non-gay poverty experts. This would be accomplished through interviews, review of existing literature, one national and three regional meetings.

In the second policy development and communication stage from July 2016– February 2017, the Project Team will turn the inputs received from the first phases into a draft paper outlining the policy arenas which must be addressed in order to address the needs of LGBTQ people who are poor, low-income, or suffering economic hardship because of discrimination. The Agenda will be communicated to and disseminated to all earlier informants and participants for input (twice). A second national convening of major LGBTQ and poverty-focused advocates will be held to discuss and revise findings.

In the third coalition building and advocacy stage of this project from March 2017– August 2017, the Project Co-Directors will release of the Policy Agenda document and organize national (and possibly state level) advocacy coalitions. Proposals from the Agenda will be integrated into advocacy with the transition team of the new Administration in the Spring of 2017.


Outcomes of the Agenda Project will be:

• The development and publication of the first-ever National Policy Agenda to Address LGBTQ Poverty.

• Placement of poverty on the agenda of the LGBTQ national movement.

• Integration of LGBTQ issues into the agendas of anti-poverty organizations.

• Closer relationships between the LGBTQ movement and mainstream anti-poverty focused agencies and organizations and greater awareness of the needs of LGBTQ poor people on the part of both.

• A new national coalition of LGBTQ and mainstream grassroots, state and national organizations connected and committed to working on LGBTQ economic inequality.

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