38 posts categorized "Housing"

April 14, 2017

Meet Kelly Kent, SAGE's National Housing Initiative Director

Kelly 4

Kelly Kent brings almost two decades of experience to his role as director of SAGE’s National Housing Initiative, a new one at the organization. Kent, who divides his time between his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, and SAGE’s New York City offices, talks about his rich background, what brought him back the Midwest, and the critical need for institutions like Citi that are helping establish models for older LGBT housing communities across the country.

SAGE: How did you end up in Kansas City?
Kelly Kent: I returned to Kansas City a few years ago after being gone for more than 16 years. Since my parents were dealing with so many health issues associated with aging, it was important for me to be accessible to them at this time in their lives. Witnessing their experiences also has helped shape my professional life in the way that it intersects health and housing for aging adults.

You have a long career as an advocate for affordable, fair housing for vulnerable populations. How did you become involved in this area?
My work in affordable and fair housing for vulnerable populations has spanned almost 20 years. I first realized my passion for this work when I volunteered as a buddy at an AIDS housing project in 1995 when I was an undergrad at the University of Kansas. At the time, HIV/AIDS housing was often more assisted living or a hospice. I saw firsthand how affordable housing is a basic foundation in a tenant’s overall healthcare engagement. That experience helped solidify my dedication to that work. I was always interested in social justice and even concentrated much of my undergraduate studies on African-American studies.

Based on those first experiences, I became even more determined to complete my master’s degree in urban planning with an emphasis on housing policy and real estate finance. I interned for the Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., and then the rest evolved as my professional education evolved. The passion remained over the course of time. Ensuring vulnerable populations have access to safe, stable housing makes a difference in their lives.

What drew you to SAGE?
Given my background, I have always had an affinity for working within the LGBT community. Once I moved back to Kansas City and experienced my own parents’ engagement with the healthcare system, I became motivated to begin coursework in gerontology to better understand the service needs of our rapidly growing older adult population. This led me to developing and overseeing a local public-private demonstration with a local hospital system, local governments, nonprofits, and corporate partners around the concept of aging in place. This was coupled with care coordination for seniors experiencing high rates of readmission to local Kansas City hospitals. I am convinced this is an issue the majority of communities have yet to effectively engage.

I met some of the SAGE staff at the American Society of Aging conference several years and told them about my interest in housing-related work for this population. When SAGE decided to increase its efforts in providing affordable housing for older LGBT adults late last year, I received a call from them.

How does Citi’s involvement further the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative?
Citi’s support as a funder in the community-development space is well known. As a leading provider in affordable housing finance, Citi recognizes that providing and developing affordable housing options helps revitalize neighborhoods and build inclusive cities. I feel fortunate to be working with SAGE and Citi on establishing replicable models for communities.

We could all use a little good news these days. Do you see any bright spots on the horizon for providing affordable LGBT housing for older people?<
It is a challenging time, and even more so for the constituents we serve. When I’m feeling low, I remind myself of the shortage of affordable LGBT housing and it reignites my desire to redouble our efforts. I believe there are positive things to point to related to our work. The broader community-development industry has refined a vast amount of evidence-based best practices over the past 25 years in providing housing and services to more vulnerable populations. There is a roadmap on how to engage in this work. It has been proven to be effective. My job is to couple those learnings with expansion activities to educate non-housing providers around its efficacy and help them replicate versions of these models specific to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

I also believe in my heart that we are making great strides as a nation around increased cultural competency with the help of programs like SAGECare. My hope is that the groundwork we are laying now won’t be necessary for my niece and nephew’s generation because we will be at a place where differences like gender identity and sexual orientation will no longer be so divisive. We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful.

How does being based in Kansas City give you a unique perspective on affordable older LGBT housing?
I have been fortunate in splitting my time between Kansas City and SAGE’s New York City office, although I’ve always worked for organizations that required me to travel extensively all over the country. One aspect that I’ve seen reinforced here is that human beings, in this case LGBT individuals, are the same wherever you go. The fundamental needs we share far outweigh our geographic differences. Those basic needs include connection, community, a safe and welcoming environment to live in, and access to support services—when needed—to provide housing stability.

Housing discrimination is not specific to New York City or other major urban areas. In fact, I would offer that it is probably just as or more pervasive outside of the urban centers and coastal cities, and there are fewer services that are LGBT-specific at their disposal. For example, it’s estimated that there are more than 22,000 LGBT individuals living in Kansas City. So the work SAGE and other organizations take on—such as cultural competency or LGBT-friendly developments—in cities like New York City or San Francisco can provide fundamental lessons so we can better replicate similar interventions for our brothers and sisters in smaller communities in all areas of the country.

January 24, 2017

What Home Can Look Like- John C. Anderson Apartments Provides Shining Example of an LGBT Age-Friendly Community

By Pat Lin

Home is a place where there should be no need to hide. Yet many LGBT older people struggle to find housing situations that are both affordable and accepting of residents' sexual orientations and gender identities. Amidst the critical need for accessible, compassionate and LGBT age-friendly homes, John C. Anderson Apartments (JCAA) in Philadelphia stands out as a model community. A diverse cast of LGBT pioneers calls this place home, thanks to the unflagging support of donors, funders, government officials, and residents themselves. That is why SAGE decided to honor John C. Anderson Apartments with the annual SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging at the 2017 Creating Change Conference.

MA&ElizabethSAGEAwards

On Sunday, Jan 22nd, SAGE CEO Michael Adams presented the SAGE Award to Elizabeth Coffee-Williams, retired transgender film star and resident of the JCAA. Onstage with them stood the community of players who made the LGBT-friendly housing complex a reality. Participants included those who conceived of, built and managed the project, (Mark Segal, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC, and Pennrose Management Inc); the donors, funders and government officials who provided support; the William Way LGBT Community Center, which provides programs and services; and the residents.

Many of the residents were outspoken activists who helped launch the gay rights movement. In their older years, they continue to channel their lively spirits into an active community that serves as a role model for the rest of the country. In an era where many of the hard-won rights our LGBT pioneers fought to secure are under attack, John C. Anderson Apartments offers a resounding example of how local community efforts and dedicated cross-collaborations can create safe spaces for LGBT elders to thrive.

Click to explore housing resources, news and LGBT age-friendly communities with SAGE’s housing portal and interactive map.

January 18, 2017

A handful of people shouted, "You don't live here! You don't belong here!"

Story

"When I would hear these instances of egregious anti-gay harassment, I sometimes thought maybe, well this might be a little conjured up, or there may be something they're not saying."

On a conceptual level, Jim Brooks and Bob Campbell have always understood that discrimination against LGBT is a reality. And yet, they had long hard reservations about fully believing people because they hadn’t experienced it themselves. It wasn’t until Jim and Bob were confronted with homophobia through housing that they learned how pervasive, nuanced and insidious LGBT discrimination and harassment can be.

Find out how Jim and Bob battled bigotry in their Arizona neighborhood in the latest SAGE Story. Then explore resources, news and LGBT age-friendly communities with SAGE’s housing portal and interactive map.

January 17, 2017

What LGBT Seniors Stand to Lose in ACA Repeal

This post originally appeared on the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation website on January 13, 206. Read the original post here.

By Aaron Tax

This blog is part of a series to highlight the dangers of the repealing the Affordable Care Act. Multiple times a week, Community Catalyst will highlight a different constituency to draw attention to the benefits the ACA has afforded them and to outline what a loss of coverage would mean.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) older adults face many of the same health and aging challenges other older adults face, but more pronounced. As a result, they are arguably more at risk if the incoming administration and Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan and/or makes significant and harmful changes to Medicaid and Medicare.

LGBT older adults face unique risks within the health care system due to the standard issues facing an aging population combined with their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as:

  • Aging Combined with Discrimination: Similar to the older population in general, LGBT older adults face challenges with aging: declining health, diminished income, and the loss of friends and family. LGBT older adults, however, also face the added burden of actual or feared discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many choose to go back into the closet for fear that caregivers will discriminate against them. Transgender adults, however, do not even have that option. Despite federal prohibitions on discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity and the prohibition of discriminatory practices toward LGBT individuals based on health status - such as being HIV positive - built into the ACA, the sex stereotyping and gender identity protections are currently under attack in the courts, and LGBT older adults remain one of the most invisible, underserved and at-risk elder populations.
  • Isolation from Society, Services and Supports: Studies show that LGBT older adults are twice as likely to live alone; half as likely to have close relatives to call for help; and more than four times less likely to have children to help them. Nearly one-in-four LGBT older adults has no one to call in case of an emergency. At the same time, studies document that LGBT older adults access essential services – including visiting nurses, food stamps, senior centers and meal programs – much less frequently than the general aging population.
  • Lack of Access to Culturally Competent Health Care: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that LGBT older adults face additional health barriers because of isolation combined with a lack of access to social services and culturally competent providers. These barriers result in increased rates of depression; higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use; and lower rates of preventive screenings. 
  • Higher Rates of Poverty: LGBT older adults reflect the diversity of our nation in terms of gender, race and ethnic identity. But there is one critical statistic where they do not reflect the norm: they have much higher poverty rates and lower average household income than their straight and cis-gender counterparts. In fact, 35 percent of SAGE clients in New York City have annual pre-tax incomes below $10,000 and rely on Medicaid – a program with looming threats of block grants or per capita caps - to provide their medical care. An additional 35 percent subsist on annual pre-tax incomes of $20,000 or less and qualify for coverage under Medicaid expansion or could utilize tax credits to purchase insurance on the Marketplace. The Medicare-eligible segment of this population benefits from the ACA having lowered Medicare Part B premiums, the closing of the “donut hole” for prescription drugs, and payment and delivery reforms aimed at improving quality and the coordination of care for individuals with complex care needs.
  • HIV: As of 2015, the CDC estimates that one in two people who are HIV positive in the United States are now over 50. Yet little attention and money is targeted towards prevention for this population. One of the free preventive services covered by the ACA is HIV screening, though recommended testing in the U.S. cuts off at age 64. As a result, older adults are much more likely to be dually diagnosed with HIV and AIDS if and when they are ultimately tested.

Because of higher rates of health disparities, un-insurance, poverty and a greater reliance on programs like Medicaid and Medicare - two programs that could be facing significant retooling and subsequent funding cuts in the coming years - the protections provided by these programs and enacted in the ACA are critical for improving the quality of life for older LGBT individuals.

As we enter an uncertain time, we believe that we must do more to honor and support the LGBT elders who fought the fight and paved the way for the recent advances we have seen on LGBT rights. The least we can do is ensure that this population still has access to the foundational supports provided by the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare.

Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

 

January 9, 2017

Make the Most of SAGE's Housing Website with These Seven Tips

In September, SAGE launched Welcome Home, the first-of-its-kind LGBT age-friendly housing website and interactive map. This comprehensive consumer resource is designed to empower LGBT elders and those who care for them with the information they need to find safe, welcoming and affordable housing nationwide. Here are some tips for making the most of this new resource:

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 1.59.16 PM

1. Enroll in SAGE Housing 101.

Housing 101 isn’t an actual course but a state of mind. Want to know where LGBT age-friendly housing is being built? Curious about new options for retirement living but not sure where to start? Want to hear stories from others just like you from around the country? Need help filing a housing discrimination complaint? Watch the video below, then go to the Housing 101 page for more.

2. Know your rights.

Knowledge is power. Housing discrimination is on the rise, and it’s important for LGBT elders and those who care for them to be prepared for discrimination before it happens. See the Know Your Rights page for helpful consumer guides, including Lambda Legal’s housing FAQ for LGBT elders, then browse LGBT housing news and anti-discrimination cases across the country.

3. Keep up with the latest research.

According to SAGE’s Out and Visible report, when searching for housing, 1 in 8 LGBT older people report they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientations, and 1 in 4 transgender older people report discrimination on the basis of their gender identities. Opening Doors, a report published by the Equal Rights Center, revealed that nearly half of older same-sex couples experienced at least one form of adverse differential treatment (as compared to heterosexual couples) when inquiring about housing in a senior living facility. Follow the Reports and Presentations page for research published by the nation’s leading LGBT organizations.

4. Subscribe to the SAGE blog.

Want to be the first to know about housing news, website improvements and new features? Follow the SAGE blog. Be sure to leave your comments and questions, and share on social media!

5. Read SAGE news as it happens.

Last summer, SAGE, HELP USA and BFC Partners announced the development of New York City’s first senior housing with services specifically designed for the LGBT community. Read about these developments and other SAGE housing news and see SAGE press releases for official statements.

6. Watch and share SAGE’s housing videos.

SAGE produced a series of housing videos in partnership with Citi, and features them regularly on the housing website's main page. Watch the whole series and look for new videos here.

7. Get interactive.

Now it’s easier than ever to know what’s happening in LGBT age-friendly housing with SAGE’s interactive housing map. Click a state to view housing policies and news, access culturally competent providers, and connect with organizations that can help, including SAGENet affiliates.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Want to suggest a new feature or submit a housing resource? Email SAGE at engagement@sageusa.org.

January 2, 2017

New Year, New SAGECare Train the Trainer


TJohnston1By Tim R. Johnston

This year I’m resolving to double my efforts to train service providers on LGBT cultural competency. From housing providers to nurses to service coordinators, it’s my job to make sure that more people know the "ins and outs" of providing services and care that are welcoming to our community. 

That’s why SAGE is growing its roster of SAGECare Certified Trainers. Beginning with in-person training and expanding to webinars and on-demand content, SAGE and SAGECare Certified Trainers have trained more than 13,000 providers in all 50 states. A series of rigorous evaluations reveals that SAGE trainings create positive changes in participants’ knowledge and attitudes about LGBT older adults and aging. SAGECare offers trained agencies the chance to earn a SAGECare-branded credential that demonstrates their commitment to LGBT older adults.

SAGECare Trainers are certified to conduct one- and four-hour in-person trainings. Trainings employ several different teaching methods to help participants develop empathy for LGBT older adults, learn about LGBT cultures, and gain the skills needed to provide culturally competent care to LGBT people. Trainings are challenging, fun, impactful and often emotional. SAGECare is a national program and SAGE invites applicants from all regions, with a special emphasis on New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles.

Our next Train the Trainer will be in Chicago from May 23-25, 2017 – do you want to apply? More information, including information on travel costs, how much trainers are paid, and more can be found on the application.

If you can’t make the next Train the Trainer event but still want to get involved, another great option is SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging’s Volunteer Education Ambassador program. Once approved, Volunteer Education Ambassadors are given a presentation they can use to help raise awareness about LGBT older adults and LGBT aging. Ambassadors all across the country have presented to local community groups, churches, universities and conferences.

When I conduct a training people often say, "LGBT aging—I’ve never thought about that!" Join me and help SAGE make 2017 the year that makes LGBT aging and LGBT older adults a top priority. Say it with me: "LGBT aging, yes I care about that!"

Click here to apply for SAGECare's next Train the Trainer event.

Click to explore housing resources, news and LGBT age-friendly communities with SAGE’s housing portal and interactive map.

December 14, 2016

Why Mary’s House? (Again.)

This post originally appeared on Diverse Elders Coalition blog on September 29, 2016. Read the original post here.

 

Click to explore housing resources, news and LGBT age-friendly communities with SAGE’s housing portal and interactive map.

 

By Dr. Imani Woody

People often ask me, “Why do we need a place for LGBT older people to live? Don’t we have enough nursing homes and retirement homes for them to use?”

So I often share the story of John, a well-to-do gay elder who was found deceased — in his welcoming, upscale retirement complex. He had stopped going to church. He had stopped playing cards and going to the clubs. He had stopped interacting with his friends.

Or I sometimes share the sorrow of my older friend, Helen, who after the death of her partner, was asked by her partner’s siblings to leave the home they shared. And how she now lives with her brother, who “harasses me for my gay lifestyle.”

Aging as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or same-gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) person can bring different challenges than aging as a mainstream elder. Often, we don’t have the same support network of children and spouses — or the caregiving and financial support that they provide; we may be estranged from our families of origin; we have lost many of our peers and our friends through the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and we, as a group, are more likely to live alone. In addition, research is verifying what many of us have known for a while: that the stigma and discrimination associated with being old and being LGBTQ/SGL can be just too hard. It can be so hard, in fact, that many of us go back into the closet. As we begin to access the senior/wellness centers, retirement complexes and nursing homes, this fear of discrimination makes us unable to be our whole selves, increasing the potential of drug and alcohol addiction, neglect of our health issues, depression, and suicide. Increased social isolation among LGBTQ/SGL elders is at an all-time high.

Mary’s House for Older Adults, Inc. was organized to create welcoming environments for LGBTQ/SGL elders in their golden years. Our first major initiative is building a physical residence in Washington, DC for fifteen elders. However, we acknowledge that we cannot build enough LGBTQ/SGL welcoming spaces for all of the people who will need them. So, our mission also includes training and education for the staff and residents of existing spaces: senior wellness centers, retirement complexes and nursing homes that serve and house us. We also are involved in public policy advocacy that impacts LGBTQ/SGL older adults and elders locally and nationally. We invite you to join our small, mighty band of supporters and volunteers and help us CHANGE our city and the country, one residence, one elder at  a time! Feel free to reach out to me at info@maryshousedc.org to learn more about how to get involved. I look forward to hearing from you!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

December 1, 2016

Where Bigotry is Denied Entrance—Fighting HIV/AIDS Stigma in Housing

By Pat Lin

On this World AIDS Day, it’s important to commemorate how far we’ve come since the HIV/AIDS pandemic started. HIV isn’t the death sentence it used to be, but many long-term survivors of HIV continue to pay an emotional, physical and financial toll. In addition to managing the disease, HIV survivors still face stigma. As they get older and the effects of the disease compound the challenges of aging, they become more vulnerable. As the nation’s largest and oldest organization serving LGBT older adults, SAGE seeks to eradicate the stigma around HIV and to create welcoming spaces for long-term HIV survivors.

Peaceful_Moment
"Peaceful Moment" by Lester Blum and Vladimir Rios from the I Still Remember exhibit on HIV/AIDS

When seeking specialized housing in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment, long-term HIV survivors, LGBT or not, face a huge hurdle. According to a 2014 poll conducted by SAGE, 1 in 8 LGBT adults and 1 in 4 transgender adults report experiencing discrimination in housing and long-term care environments. In an article addressing HIV stigma in housing options, Hilary Meyer, SAGE’s Director of Social Enterprise and Special Projects, said, "We certainly have experiences with hearing stories about caregivers not understanding how to work with HIV, appalling things such as concerns with contact. There's still very much a stigma and misinformation."

SAGE is working to create comfortable and inclusive environments for long-term HIV survivors. Last summer SAGE announced that two new LGBT age-friendly senior housing developments would be built in New York City. Along with these two developments in Brooklyn and the Bronx, SAGE is spearheading nationwide advocacy efforts against discrimination in housing. "The number one issue for our constituency is affordable housing," said Meyer. "Having a long-term disability just compounds the issue. It limits where they can live." Yet housing construction alone is not enough to solve the problem. As SAGE’s Director of Federal Government Relations Aaron Tax said, "We can’t build our way out of this. The wider housing stock has to be either affordable and/or targeted low-income, and be welcoming…If you're in New York City, perhaps you can get into an LGBT-targeted building, but there are plenty of people who won't be able to get into a building like that."

577e8ec79f0d0_collage
Ingersoll Senior Residences in Brooklyn (L) and Crotona Senior Residencies in the Bronx

Who one lives with is just as important as where. Open, compassionate and culturally competent providers and staff who understand the specific needs of LGBT older adults and long-term HIV survivors are crucial to creating supportive environments. This is why SAGE started SAGECare, a training and consulting program on LGBT aging for service providers. SAGECare offers cultural competency training for all levels of employees, personalized consulting on LGBT aging issues, and full audits on LGBT-inclusive policies, procedures and best practices. Providers can earn Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum SAGECare credentials to signal their commitment to the best person-directed care for LGBT older adults.

Said one SAGE constituent, "I want to feel safe, housed in a place where bigotry is denied entrance." Long-term HIV survivors and LGBT elders deserve that safe space, and it’s up to people and organizations like SAGE to make sure that it happens.

November 14, 2016

SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

SAGEMattersFall2016Cover

SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

As we share the latest SAGEMatters with you, we are living through a period of unprecedented change. Perhaps nothing reminds us of this more sharply than this year’s high-stakes elections, which have turned long-standing political and social assumptions on their heads.

This theme of change runs powerfully through the features in this issue of SAGEMatters. Inside, you’ll find George Takei’s take on personal evolution; learn how Jeffrey Erdman has taken the LA leather scene by storm in his 50s; and follow an inspiring conversation with Kate Kendell, Mara Keisling and Carmen Vazquez about the changing landscape of gender identity. You’ll also learn how the federal government (after a lot of pushing by SAGE) is moving to transform publicly-funded aging services to make them more LGBT-friendly. Join us in celebrating the realization of a decades-long dream for our communities in New York City, as SAGE announces the construction of the first two LGBTfriendly elder housing communities in the Big Apple. And so much more.

This time of great change and evolution sets the stage for the launch of SAGE’s new strategic plan. The overriding goal of the plan is to dramatically expand the impact of SAGE’s work so that LGBT people can grow older with boundless opportunities for growth and enrichment. We believe that we can achieve this transformative vision by tapping into our legacy of “taking care of our own,” by building ties across generations, by encouraging communities to become LGBT age-friendly and by convincing partners of all kinds to get involved. This issue of SAGEMatters includes a special feature on our new plan—we hope you’ll be as excited as we are.

For me, all of this has a special personal significance as I celebrate my 10th anniversary at the helm of this amazing organization. I’m so proud of the great progress that we have made together on behalf of our LGBT elder pioneers. And I’m tremendously passionate about the next chapter of SAGE’s work.

I know that as you read through this latest SAGEMatters it will be even clearer to you why SAGE’s efforts matter more than ever. Let’s keep working together so that all LGBT elders have the support they need to live lives of boundless opportunity.

  6a017c34619ea6970b01bb0905f30f970d-200wi

Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the biannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the expanded Fall 2016 issue here.

September 20, 2016

SAGE Launches LGBT Age-Friendly Housing Website

Home isn't just where we live — home is our safe place. That's why SAGE has created a first-of-its-kind housing website that empowers LGBT elders to find a welcoming place to call home. We know that housing discrimination is on the rise, and dependable resources are needed more than ever. Now, you can access housing policies and protections, and find out where LGBT age-friendly communities are being built via SAGE's new interactive map and resources.

Be sure to sign up for updates as we share new stories and resources over the coming months, and follow on social media with #SAGEHousing.