Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) has launched a comprehensive national initiative to address the LGBT older adult housing crisis, hosting a panel discussion at its national headquarters Tuesday with marriage equality pioneer Edie Windsor and key leaders working on this issue across the country.
LGBT older people often face unique challenges in finding safe, affirming, affordable housing, and are disproportionately living in poverty, often as the result of lifelong discrimination. A 2014 report by the Equal Rights Center, with support from SAGE, found that 48 percent of older same sex couples applying for senior housing as part of a national test were subjected to discrimination. This high level of discrimination makes it extremely difficult for LGBT older people to find appropriate housing as they age.
“Addressing the current housing crisis is a critical first step in improving the lives of LGBT older people – which is the heart of SAGE’s mission,” said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. “This initiative puts a national frame around the work of many talented leaders in the housing field, and will drive clear strategies to transform the housing landscape for LGBT elders.”
Jennifer Ho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, spoke at the launch of SAGE’s initiative and affirmed HUD’s support for the effort, stating that “the LGBT community’s needs must be front and center” as HUD expands senior housing across the country.
SAGE’s Initiative provides five strategies to expand housing opportunities for LGBT older people:
- Building LGBT elder housing and sharing SAGE’s expertise from such projects;
- Training existing housing facilities to provide housing in an LGBT-welcoming, non-discriminatory manner;
- Changing public policies to clear the way for more LGBT elder housing and bar housing discrimination against LGBT older people;
- Educating LGBT older people in how to look for LGBT-friendly housing and how to exercise their rights; and
- Expanding LGBT-friendly services available in housing sites across the country.
SAGE will also partner with HELP U.S.A., a national affordable housing developer, to build New York City’s first LGBT-inclusive older adult housing; the project will be located in the Bronx. Planning for the New York City project is still in its preliminary stages, with further announcements to come at a later date.
Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. With offices in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 27 local SAGE affiliates in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.