Stonewall Community Development Corporation (SCDC) is in the preliminary stages of developing a citywide survey of NYC LGBTQ older adults and their housing needs. The data garnered from this survey will be made publicly available in a comprehensive report and will inform our programming as we work with developers to create a model of LGBTQ-affirming senior housing in New York City and a program of comprehensive services that allows aging in place whenever possible.
The Issue to Be Addressed
Sexual orientation is not a protected class in federal housing anti-discrimination law. Many LGBTQ older adults return to "the closet" to avoid discrimination when trying to access housing and healthcare services. In a recent study by the Equal Rights Center and SAGE conducted across 10 cities, LGBT seniors were subjected to discrimination 48% of the time. It is ironic that this generation, who pioneered our civil rights struggle, should be in this position.
Additionally, LGBTQ elders face a number of challenges beyond those of the general elder population. They are more likely to lack support networks; to lack family (80% of caregivers for elders); and to live in poverty (two times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts for gay men, four times more likely for lesbians).
SCDC has contracted Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, to create a citywide survey to understand the actual housing needs of LGBTQ seniors. The data culled will help us identify and quantify the market and understand the unique needs and challenges faced by this population and further inform the development of our programming and service platforms.
Strength in Numbers Consulting Group is headed by Somjen Frazer, nationally-renowned for her research work on issues facing the LGBTQ community.
We are now in the Rapid Opportunity Assessment phase, interviewing groups across the country who have completed successful LGBTQ-affirming senior housing projects. That first report, due in July, will inform the creation of the survey mechanism. We are also currently beginning outreach to geriatric service providers, community-based organizations, LGBTQ organizations, social and professional associations and political leaders, in order to create the grassroots network partnerships that will allow us to penetrate communities deeply.
The survey will be available online, but given the target population we believe a great share of surveys will be completed in person at centers and events where seniors gather. We want to develop a youth corps that will help seniors fill out the survey at these centers and events. The survey will be live from October, 2016 through February, 2017 and a final report will be made available to the public in June, 2017.