Access the full report here.

Top LGBTQ community needs include living wage, safety, healthcare, and employment

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, April 30, the data summary report from the 2019 Chicago LGBTQ Community Needs Assessment will be released to the public. The needs assessment was conducted by Morten Group, LLC on behalf of The LGBT Community Fund, a donor-advised fund of The Chicago Community Trust. Over 2,000 LGBTQ individuals in the Chicagoland area participated in the data collection process.

An invitation only press breakfast for project partners, community leaders, and members of the media will be held at 9 am that morning at Affinity Community Services, one of the project’s 70+ community partners. Affinity, located at 2850 South Wabash Avenue, is a social justice organization serving the needs of the Black LGBTQ community in Chicago.

“We are eager to share the results of this important project, and we are grateful to every person who participated in the research effort,” said Denise C. Foy, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the LGBT Community Fund. “Over two thousand people took the time to share their experiences and needs with us, and this truly impacts how we allocate our funding to support and strengthen the community.”

In 2018, the Steering Committee of The LGBT Community Fund retained Morten Group to conduct the needs assessment in order to gather data on current strengths, assets, needs and challenges of the Chicagoland LGBTQ community. Morten Group conducted the first needs assessment of this nature for The LGBT Community Fund in 2011; this new assessment allows for comparison of the data and an updated snapshot of the community’s needs in 2019.

Data collection took place over a fifteen-week field period, from October 17, 2018 through January 31, 2019. Over 2,000 individuals participated across three data collection tools: an online survey, drop boxes with paper data cards (brief surveys) and focus groups. A snowball sampling method was used, with over 70 partner organizations, groups and businesses sharing the link to the online survey and spreading the word throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.

The top five community needs identified through the online survey (about 3 out of 4 participants completed the online survey, making it the largest data collection tool) include: 1) basic income and living wage, 2) community safety/violence, 3) discrimination based on race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, 4) health insurance and physical/mental health services and care, and 5) employment.

Across all three data collection tools, the following emerged as seven key themes, which the researchers will discuss in detail at the press release breakfast: 1) inequities within the LGBTQ population, 2) high-quality, affordable, culturally responsive, comprehensive health care, 3) employment/underemployment and equity in the job market, 4) support accessing quality human and government services, 5) community safety and violence prevention for all, 6) affordable housing and gentrification, and 7) resilience and capacity of a participatory, intersectional LGBTQ community.

The first comprehensive LGBT Community Needs Assessment was conducted by Morten Group on behalf of the LGBT Community Fund in the fall of 2011, with a data report release in June of 2012. The 2019 LGBTQ Community Needs Assessment allows the researchers to compare current data with the results from the 2011 data collection. Mary F. Morten, President, Morten Group, LLC, shared: “Some things have changed since our first needs assessment for the Trust, but others have remained the same.” What’s changed? “For example, folks are more concerned about housing and gentrification in 2019, whereas in 2011 there was greater concern about the recession.” What’s stayed the same? For example: “People continue to be very concerned about healthcare. And the percentage of folks identifying as single has remained the same – 4 in 10.” Another important change to note: “This year’s data collection process saw greater inclusion and representation of LGBTQ folks with disabilities and transgender/gender nonconforming (TGNC) folks,” added Morten.

In addition to being released to the public online, the full data summary report will also be made available to the community in a number of presentations. Dr. Keisha Farmer-Smith, Research Director, noted, “We use a participatory action research model, meaning that we view participants as partners. This data exists because of them and belongs to them. After the last needs assessment report was released in 2012, we saw so many organizations put the data to use in creative and innovative ways. We look forward to seeing how people can use this round of data to support the important work they are doing in their communities.”

The LGBT Community Fund began in 2010 with an operating grant from The Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust and a grant from The Chicago Community Trust. The Fund exists to provide strategic support to nonprofit organizations serving the Chicago-area LGBTQ community, and aims to address a wide range of needs. In 2015, the LGBT Community Fund’s first round of funding awarded $282,500 in IMPACT Grants, providing seed money and supporting capacity building. In 2016, the second round of funding awarded $350,000 in Transformational Grants, supporting innovative projects reaching traditionally underserved populations. In 2017, the third round of funding distributed $315,000 in Community Grants addressing urgent and underserved needs (healthcare, safety, and youth and senior services).

Morten Group, LLC is a national consulting firm, based in Chicago, whose work centers around transformation through assessment, education, and action. For more information, please visit:

Sarah Menke

Sarah Menke has blogged 60 posts