8 posts categorized "Housing"

April 15, 2014

LGBT Older Adult Housing – A Critical Need

Today's post is from Hilary Meyer, SAGE's Director of National Programs and Director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Horizon

LGBT older adults deserve secure, stable and affordable housing, yet often face harassment and intimidation in their homes and in long-term care settings from aging professionals and other residents. This means that many people live in physically and emotionally unhealthy environments that compromise the quality of their lives.

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (NRC) is running a social media campaign this week to draw attention to this critical issue. Whether you are an older adults yourself, an aging provider looking for more information or an LGBT organization looking for more information on housing needs, we have you covered with webinars, articles, educational videos, publications and more!

A few highlights from our website include:

Safe, inclusive and affordable housing is a key to aging successfully and happily. We urge LGBT people and their allies to education themselves on all aspects of this important topic.

April 7, 2014

Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults and Housing

3141493As our LGBT population ages, research illustrates that the right to safe and affordable housing is not a guarantee. On February26, 2014, the Equal Rights Center (ERC), in partnership with SAGE, released the results of a 10-state testing-based investigation documenting differential treatment against older same-sex couples seeking housing in senior living facilities. The report, Opening Doors: An Investigation of Barriers to Senior Housing for Same-Sex Couples, can be read here. Among other findings, the tests showed that 48% of same-sex couples experienced at least one form of adverse differential treatment when inquiring about senior housing as compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

The report showed the following from the investigation:

  • Housing agents providing information about additional units being available to the tester from an opposite-sex couple;
  • Housing agents advising the tester from the same-sex couple about additional fees, costs, and/or a more extensive application process than were disclosed to the heterosexual tester;
  • Housing agents providing information about additional amenities to the testers from the opposite sex couple that were not mentioned to the tester from the same sex couple; and
  • Housing agents offering "specials" and discounts to the tester from the same-sex couple that were not offered to the tester from the opposite sex couple.

These results highlight the need for further research to provide additional data on housing discrimination against older LGBT adults and for policy remedies that improve housing options for LGBT older adults, no matter where they live. Read our full press release here.

In addition to this report, more LGBT housing news hit the wires, including a thoughtful piece from SAGE Senior Director of Public Policy & Communications Robert Espinoza on the right to housing and aging discrimination in the LGBT community via The Huffington Post. In addition, the New York Times released an article on the need for LGBT-specific senior housing featuring SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams. Serena Worthington, SAGE's director of community advocacy & capacity-building, is quoted in a recent piece from the BBC on thegrowth of gay retirement homes. And SAGE is featured in MSNBC's piece on LGBT housing, which focuses on the opening of the John C. Anderson Apartments in Philadelphia. 

 

August 19, 2013

LGBT Housing Surveys Now Underway

It seems that affordable housing for LGBT older people is one of today’s hottest topics. Finding affordable housing is a challenge for many older adults, especially for LGBT older people who are less financially secure than older people in general.  Often, LGBT elders find that they cannot afford to live in the communities that have been their homes for many years.

Advocates and real estate developers are mobilizing to address this challenge.  In June, SAGE and Enterprise Community Partners Inc. presented a popular national conference call,” LGBT Inclusive Older Adult Housing with Services,” on LGBT affordable older adult housing opportunities and challenges; the call, attended by more than 200 people, featured housing experts and representatives from several LGBT older adult housing developments. If you missed this incredibly informative call, you can listen to it now. In addition, more and more affordable LGBT older adult housing developments have been springing up around the country; for an overview of these developments, check out the article, “Affordable Housing for LGBT Older Adults,” in the latest SAGEMatters.

These new developments are much needed, and other cities are now looking to address the affordable housing issue—whether through building their own developments or improving the quality of current elder housing. Recently three SAGE affiliates—in Portland, Oregon, St. Louis, Missouri and Salt Lake City, Utah—kicked off efforts to ensure that LGBT older adults in their cities have access to safe and affordable housing.

  • To ensure that LGBT older adults feel comfortable no matter where live, SAGE Metro Portland has launched the “LGBT Equality Survey for Senior Housing” to assess residential facilities, retirement communities, assisted living and nursing homes on how welcoming they are to LGBT residents. The aim is to connect LGBT older adults with LGBT-friendly housing utilizing a new multifaceted assessment tool that assists in discovering the culture, policies, diversity of staff, and outreach efforts of a particular senior housing establishment. If you are a senior housing facility in the Portland interested in participating in the survey for an opportunity to join the program, please contact the SAGE Metro Portland Coordinator at (503) 224-2640, email sage@friendlyhouseinc.org or take the online survey. On-site consultations can be scheduled if assistance is needed to complete the survey.
  • SAGE Metro St. Louis is now seeking the input of community individuals who are age 18 and older to better understand the current and future housing and retirement needs of St. Louis LGBT older adults. This information will help the organization when planning and developing services to support the St. Louis LGBT community. SAGE Metro St. Louis’ efforts are part of the ongoing work they have been doing to improve the quality of housing and support for LGBT older adults in their community. (You can read more about these efforts in the Fall 2012 issue of SAGEMatters). The survey is anonymous and confidential. If you’re in the St. Louis area, you can find more information and take the survey online here. If you would prefer to complete the survey in paper form, please contact the SAGE office at (314) 772-5887 or email ewebb@sagemetrostl.org and a survey will be mailed to you along with a postage paid, return envelope.
  • SAGE Utah has partnered with Salt Lake County Aging Services, AARP Utah, and the Utah state government for a multi-phase survey that will encompass senior living and retirement communities; assisted living; and long term care facilities.  They are about to launch the Phase 1 of the survey and hope to focus a spotlight on LGBT elder housing issues in the state of Utah.

 

August 6, 2013

Update on Philly LGBT Older Adult Housing

This post was written by Ed Miller, Senior Programs Coordinator, SAGE Philadelphia at the William Way Community Center.

ANDERSON MEETING AUGUST

SAGE Philadelphia at the William Way Community Center (WWCC) is fully engaged with preparations for the application process for the John C. Anderson Apartments. The new six-story, fifty-six unit LGBT-friendly building is on schedule to open in early 2014. It is centrally located in the heart of the Philadelphia "gayborhood," just one block from SAGE Philadelphia at WWCC.

The highly anticipated Information Sessions to inform the community about the application process are scheduled to take place on August 6, 2013 and August 28, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. The community is working to get the word out about the sessions, especially to those who may be isolated or not connected to community news, the Internet, and social media.

Everything is coming together and you can just sense the excitement in the air. SAGE Philadelphia will implement new senior programs at the site while offering extended senior programs housed at the community center. A good deal of the work in visualizing programs and services was part of WWCC's original proposal. However, the final decision on what those programs look like will be determined by the results of a survey competed during the application process. Although this narrows our community center's window to ready itself for opening day, residents have a major stake in this venture and we want to ensure that their needs are honored and met first and foremost. This is a most exciting time for the LGBT community in Philadelphia.

To RSVP for an information session, email marketing@pennrose.com.

July 26, 2013

The Personal is Political: Eleanor’s Story

In honor of the 23rd Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, SAGE is pleased to share Eleanor Smith's story. Eleanor is the founder of Concrete Change, a disability rights organization in Decatur, GA. This is an excerpt of a speech she gave at SAGE’s LGBT Elder Institute, held in Atlanta, on January 24, 2013. Visit SAGE Story to listen to her full presentation.
 

Eleanor
Eleanor Smith
(image from Measure up the North
At my one of my first disability rights actions, in Washington DC about 30 years ago, as I was marching along in my wheelchair with a few hundred  others, a fellow marcher pulled up beside me in his power wheelchair and said, “Are you one of those old time dykes?”  I laughed and answered affirmatively. He could probably tell by the flannel shirt.  Later I got to know Eric better, and I learned from him that he was a female to male trans person. What a lot of guts he was showing back then in the 1980s to be a severely mobility-impaired person who also changed his gender. Back then Eric and I were young people with disabilities. Now we’re old people with disabilities. Today I’m going to talk about the intersection of aging and disability and the wisdom of older gays and people with disabilities working more closely together.

 

I have noticed how old people and their organizations and younger disabled people and their organizations often work quite separately from each other, and are unaware of each others’ work.  This is the case even though many of the same issues affect both groups.

We have been taught over the years to realize that all oppressions operate in similar ways. Ageism and ableism are even more closely intertwined that most oppressions. For instance, both older people and disabled people are often devalued because our bodies or minds deviate from the norm by being—or perceived as being—weaker and less functional.   And the physical attributes of both old people and people with disabilities of all ages are considered by many to be ugly, or grotesque. So we all need to be liberated to see old or disabled bodies as beautiful in their own way.

Continue reading "The Personal is Political: Eleanor’s Story " »

July 10, 2013

LGBT Senior Living: Challenges and Change in Nursing Home Settings

Written by Anila S. Venkat, this post was originally featured on the ElderBranch blog. ElderBranch provides unbiased information on senior care providers. 

BlogpostlivingfacilitiesAs described in ElderBranch’s initial piece on LGBT senior living, elder care facilities and other health care settings are often unwelcoming towards LGBT older adults or insensitive to their needs and circumstances.

As a result, LGBT elders generally tend to delay seeking health care for fear of discrimination and mistreatment. At the same time, they are less likely to rely on family members for caregiving for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, together, this may lead to LGBT older adults needing institutional care more frequently, or sooner in their lifetimes, as they may find that their health deteriorates more rapidly.

ElderBranch interviewed Hilary Meyer and Aaron Tax of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) to explore this issue and discuss SAGE advocacy efforts aimed at encouraging system-wide change.

Hostile Health Care Environments

In its report, LGBT Older Adults and Inhospitable Health Care Environments, SAGE details how health care settings are often challenging environments for LGBT elders. These seniors may face outright discrimination, or it may be that the staff in these settings is not trained to deal with this population of elders.

Though some health care environments are starting to change, the scars of previous negative experiences leave many seniors reluctant to pursue care unless absolutely necessary. In fact, the SAGE report quotes a 2006 study that found that less than half of lesbian and gay Baby Boomers were strongly confident that health care professionals would treat them with dignity and respect.

However, in delaying the pursuit of health care, LGBT older adults often find themselves in a position where their health deteriorates more suddenly and sooner than expected, and then they end up requiring institutional care – such as nursing home care.

Challenges in Nursing Home Settings

In nursing home settings, LGBT seniors often face discrimination not only from staff members, but also from other residents and residents’ family members. Hostility from a variety of angles can lead to LGBT elders keeping to themselves and limiting interaction with others.

Staff members have been known to deny same-sex partner visitations, prevent same-sex couples from sharing rooms and even refuse the participation of a same-sex partner in the medical decision-making of the resident.

When faced with harassment by other residents and their family members, nursing homes are often ill-equipped to confront these situations. Staff members sometimes react by isolating the LGBT individual – which can be devastating for that resident when he or she is already withdrawn and isolated socially.

Effecting Change – SAGE Advocacy

SAGE is very deeply engaged in advocacy efforts to support the needs of LGBT older adults. Though it is difficult to target long-term care settings more generally (assisted living, retirement communities), due to lack of one governing body or set of rules, facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding – such as nursing homes – are more easily addressed.

SAGE advocates on a number of key issues pertaining to care in nursing home settings, which begin to address some of the challenges described above that arise when LGBT seniors access nursing home care.

Cultural Competency Training

It is critical that nursing home staff appreciate the specific needs of LGBT older adults, including recognizing diverse family structures and providing medically appropriate care for transgender people.

In this regard, Aaron Tax explains, “We and our LGBT-aging allies are currently working with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] on an LGBT cultural competency training for employees in long-term care facilities, targeting nursing facilities certified by CMS for Medicare and/or Medicaid and state-licensed residential care facilities. We also believe there are places where LGBT curricula can and should be added to staff trainings or integrated into existing trainings for care providers.”

To this end, SAGE offers comprehensive cultural competency trainings through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, for staff at nursing homes and other aging service providers. Interested parties can request a training through the SAGE website.

Updating Forms and Broad Definitions of Family

LGBT people and their families often have difficulty ensuring access for partners and children who do not have legally recognized relationships. For example, LGBT elders should be allowed to list their partners on forms where heterosexual couples list spouses, list their non-biological and non-adoptive children as well, and be permitted visitations from their partners and non-biological/non-adoptive children.

“We and our LGBT-aging allies have recommended that CMS and AoA [Administration on Aging] review and revise existing regulations, as appropriate, to incorporate inclusive definitions of family. We and our LGBT-aging allies have also urged that CMS and AoA take actions to encourage state agencies to review and revise their own regulations and forms as needed,” details Aaron.

The LGBT movement’s efforts in these arenas are evidently paying off. On June 28, 2013, CMS issued amemorandum to State Survey Agency Directors, reiterating resident rights surrounding access and visitation.

The memo states that long-term care facilities must ensure that all visitors be given full and equal visitation privileges. Most significantly, the memo states that residents must be notified of their rights to have visitors on a 24-hour basis, who could include, but are not limited to, spouses (including same-sex spouses), domestic partners (including same-sex domestic partners), other family members, or friends.

While many challenges remain ahead – for example, LGBT older adults need to be able to feel comfortable reporting violations to their rights – these changes represent significant steps in the right direction.


June 20, 2013

Act Now to Help Prevent LGBT Older Adults From Aging Back Into the Closet

This post was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Read the original post here.

Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A., is President of the Lasker Foundation. This post details the importance of helping LGBT older adults age with the dignity and respect they deserve.

DSCF2614Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults are pioneers who bravely pushed open the doors to coming out. It is unconscionable that many of these leaders of social justice are forced to retreat into the closet as they age. The troubling reality is that the U.S. lacks a complete understanding of the LGBT senior community and is particularly unprepared for the needs of LGBT older adults at the intersection of multiple disadvantaged populations, such as LGBT seniors who are people of color, disabled, living with HIV/AIDS, undocumented immigrants or socioeconomically marginalized.

Many LGBT seniors fear that the health-care system is judgmental and have experienced discriminatory care or lack access to culturally competent aging services. To address this crisis, the U.S. must adopt a new perspective that emphasizes health, rather than just health care. All sectors of society must come together with a renewed sense of social responsibility that focuses on social determinants of health -- a holistic view of everyday factors that impact the health, economic and social well-being of LGBT seniors.

Continue reading "Act Now to Help Prevent LGBT Older Adults From Aging Back Into the Closet" »

May 31, 2013

From a Place of Degradation to a Place of Honor

Today's post comes to us from Britta Larson, Senior Services Director at SAGE Center on Halsted.

Town Hall on Halsted
An artistic rendering of Chicago's new affordable LGBT senior housing development. Image courtesy of Gensler.


In just a few short days Center on Halsted, the largest, most comprehensive LGBTQ community Center in the Midwest, along with Heartland Housing, the Midwest’s leading affordable housing developer, will be breaking ground on the region’s first affordable LGBT-friendly senior housing facility. This is truly a historic moment, a moment which many LGBT older adults never thought they would live to see.

Continue reading "From a Place of Degradation to a Place of Honor" »

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