The dream of owning a home seems out of reach for millions of Americans, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community. But in Peoria, Illinois, Alex Martin owns a home at age 30 — something she never thought would be possible.
“I’m black. I’m trans, and I’m visibly so, and so having a space that, like, I made that I can just come in and recharge, I’m ready to face the world again,” she said.
And she’s not alone. In recent years, many LGBTQ+ people and people of color, who are statistically less likely to own homes because of discrimination and wealth gaps, are moving to the same city.
At first, they came from places like New York and Seattle, where home prices are sky-high. Now, many are coming from some of the 21 states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Last year, realtor Mike Van Cleve sold almost 80 homes, and nearly one-third were sold to people moving from out of state.
Angie Ostaszewski says she has almost single-handedly grown Peoria’s population by about 360 in three years thanks to TikTok.
“When I first started making TikToks about Peoria, it was about ‘improve your quality of life,'” she said. “But in the last six months especially, people are relocating here more for survival, and that’s such a different conversation.”
Ostaszewski also said she would like for her posts to help spread the word even further.
“I love the idea of shaking up that big cities are the only places that LGBTQ+ people can thrive,” she said.