The LGBT+ Housing Initiative started as an idea from a meeting of the Keller Williams Rainbow Network at a company event in 2019. The topic was how they can give back to their community. As realtors, one of the ways they, as a group, can give back is to encourage home ownership in the LGBTQ+ community. Home ownership in the United States is at 64%. However, in the LGBT+ community that number is 49%. Homeownership is a major part of the American Dream. Their group decided that they needed to put a program together to promote and encourage more of their community to participate in this part of the dream.
They took a page out of other organizations that encourage homeownership in other communities, like the Hero community. What they agreed to do is to give their LGBT+ homeowners an extra advantage to make owning a home a little easier.
Here’s how it works. If an LGBT+ homebuyer works with one of their agents who participates in the Initiative, that agent agrees to donate 25% of their commission to the LGBT+ Housing Initiative. 20% is then given to the home buyer or seller within 10 days after closing.
One of our advertisers, Dave Gervase, not only participates in this program but is on the Board of Directors of the LGBT Housing Initiative. I thought it appropriate, in the Pride Edition, that we sit down with Dave as we are so proud of what he does.
How long have you been a Real Estate Agent?
I have been selling real estate in Fort Lauderdale full time since 1999 with a two-year break from sales in 2013 to serve as Asst Manager of my firm focused on recruiting and training. This gave me the opportunity to invest in equity ownership of the Keller Williams Coral Springs office and our In-house title company, Title Alliance professionals.
Have you ever represented anyone famous?
Yes and a few that are notorious. Seriously I have worked with many local news and sports personalities.
What was your favorite property that you represented and why?
About a decade ago I sold a town house in Weston. Afterward I sent out a postcard and soon got a call from Pearl Klugerman. She was 94 and told me that she thought I had a kind face. She needed to sell her condo and go into assisted living and asked for my help. I listed and sold her condo furnished, arranged for help to pack, and drove her to her new life at the assisted living. It certainly wasn’t the sexiest property that I ever sold, but it by far my favorite and most meaningful.
Why did you decide to get involved with the LGBT Housing Initiative?
The LGBT Housing, Initiative was the brainchild of a colleague of mine in Cleveland. Studies have shown that 40% of homeless teens identify as LGBTQ. Another fact is that homeownership in the LGBTQ community is nearly 20% lower than overall homeownership. Mike Zinicola came up with an idea that would help on both fronts. The formula is simple and works the same way the Homes for Heroes does. The agent gives 25% of their commission to the Initiative. 20% goes back to the client to help with their expenses. 5% goes into the fund that is distributed to organizations that help get LGBTQ kids off the streets. Of course, if the client doesn’t need the assistance, we are happy to give it all to the kids.
You are on the Board of Directors. How did that happen?
It was kind of a natural evolution. Agent participation in the LGBT Housing initiative is only open to agents in the Keller Williams Rainbow network which I have held various leadership roles in over the years. The network is the largest LGBT Agent to Agent referral and mastermind group in the real estate industry. It enables LGBT KW Agents to refer clients to like-minded agents all over the world. Anyway, at the beginning of the pandemic we began a weekly KW Rainbow Zoom Mastermind call to help each other build and sustain our businesses through challenging times. It was also when the idea of the initiative came to be. Zinicola did the filing for the 501(c)3 and the board was formed with a diverse group of top producing agents from all over the county.
I also serve on the National Board of Directors of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and local Chapter advisor. The Alliance is the largest LGBTQ Trade Organization in the Real Estate Industry. We’ve partnered with NAR, Every Major real estate brand, Other Affinity real estate trade organizations and boards with a mission to end housing discrimination. Serving on both boards is quite a privilege that I don’t take lightly. We have a lot of work to do, and I am excited to be part of it.
How fulfilling is it to be a part of this program?
Look, I am in business to make money and money is only good for the good that it can do for people Giving back is part of my DNA and this is a simple program that can do amazing things.
Why should someone choose you as their realtor?
Hopefully to participate in the initiative! Beyond that there’s a bevy of talented professional agents in this town who I respect. Why someone should work with me I guess can be summed up in my most recent and favorite Christmas gift from my husband. He gave me a cuff bracelet with “Fierce Advocate” engraved in it. He said that for the last 22 years he’s listened to me on the phone advocating for my clients, keeping the best interests and goals as my focus. It was the best gift I’ve received, and I wear it every day to remind me that I have to advocate for my clients and my community.
For more information ion Dave Gervase go to Resideoceanside.com or call him at 954-224-3663, and for more information on the Initiative go to: lgbthousinginitiative.com.