The Stonewall Bridge
Building Care and Equity Across Queer Generations
Context and Need
In the next 30 years America will have almost 100 million seniors and 5.2 million will be LGBTQ+.
The majority of these LGBTQ+ older adults have no children, meaning no ready caregivers nor heritors.
More than 22 million other Americans are similarly situated: needing safe, appropriate care with no family to provide it.
Millennial queer generations face different challenges and live in a perfect storm of economic stress: lower wages, unaffordable housing, crippling student debt, disrupted earnings. Downwardly mobile, they won’t do as well as their parents did, are far less able to afford a house or secure financial stability. They need affordable housing, a path to economic safety, and a meaningful vocation.
Older Americans now control an estimated $70 trillion dollars of assets, much of it locked in the appreciated value of their homes. If they enter an institution, they will have to sell their homes and leave their community; their assets will transfer to corporate entities and shareholders, very little will pass to those who actually provide them care, and none will benefit less-affluent neighbors in their community. Aging at home costs a fraction of institutional care, and most seniors prefer it, but today’s home care system can’t meet the current demand, often exploits caregivers, and is facing collapse.
These two generations each need what the other has: LGBTQ+ elders need safe care, younger queer generations need housing and resources. Both seek community, meaning, and sustaining intergenerational relationships. The Stonewall Bridge offers a radically innovative synergy to accomplish that, and to create unprecedented and meaningful queer legacy.
The Stonewall Bridge Solution
LGBTQ+ seniors get matched with a “Sharegiver.” Very different from today’s home care workers, Sharegivers are highly screened, well-educated, specifically trained, culturally matched and appropriate, managers. They bring the same technical care skills of home care workers, but are stringently selected for companionability, personality, cultural competence, communications skills, ethics, and interests in seniors. They do what a competent, engaged offspring would do: provide or coordinate assistance like shopping, escort to care, care coordination and continuity, pharmacy needs, light maintenance, reaching, lifting and household support. They may be individual or a couple.
A Sharegiver is provided housing in or near the senior’s home: a separate floor or structure; an extra room, basement or attic apartment, cottage or separate ADU structure. This housing is the first tier of their compensation. Over time, based on length and quality of service, Sharegivers vest to earn equity derived from our portfolio of properties. The longer they continue helping older adults in a neighborhood and the better job they do, the greater their reward.
While a senior needs only assistive support, the Sharegiver has capacity to assist other neighboring seniors, who may not provide housing, but can directly support the Sharegiver for their assistive services. As seniors’ care needs shift, more Sharegivers join, to maintain services and meet a neighborhood’s expanding demand. A community can design their plan to offer support to seniors without means at minimal or no charge.
Once the relationship is established and a well-matched Sharegiver is in place, the senior donates their home as a charitable gift to the non-profit The Stonewall Bridge, with a life tenancy to live out their days at home and an annuitized income stream to support care. The program oversees appropriate and safe care, prevents fraud and abuse, and keeps the property in trust in perpetual affordability. When the senior dies, that in-trust home remains a care property, which can house more Sharegivers to extend care to more seniors in the neighborhood, or to house an undomiciled senior with a Sharegiver. Multiple Sharegivers in a neighborhood ensure the system meets evolving care needs for resident seniors, support for the sharegivers, and redundancy in staffing.
The Stonewall Bridge uses a home safety and support system in each household to support the older adult’s ability to live safely and independently at home. It monitors their well-being over time, lets them request services, reduces isolation, and alerts Sharegivers to problems and needs before they become crises. This leverages a Sharegiver’s effort, allowing one Sharegiver to support multiple older adults, bringing care, focus, support, and assessment as needed, so situations don’t become emergencies. Seniors living independently get a “light touch” with regular check ins to assess needs and independent living needs and ensure that additional support is brought when needed.
At each stage—from screening and training to support, supervision and community – The Stonewall Bridge aims to create caring, reciprocal, respectful, culturally-sensitive bonds across generations. Deep intergenerational ties of care, increasingly rare in our society, benefit young and old through mentorship, mutual learning, companionship, shared experience, legacy and cultural continuity. Borrowing from national home-sharing experts, we use a multi-tiered recruitment, selection, recruitment, matching, and oversight process that no other home sharing or home care services use.
The Stonewall Bridge is a comprehensive design, not just one single brick-and-mortar site. It will be available to any group –a neighborhood, a friendship circle, a town, or senior-serving agency – to adapt and implement for aging in place, in built or purchased sites. We offer financial, contractual, legal, organizational, training, supervisory, and technology templates so communities can adapt the model to their needs.
Economically, The Stonewall Bridge is a care-for-equity exchange that:
Unlocks senior resources to let seniors to age at home among friends
Provides LGBTQ+ -affirming, appropriate and respectful care
Disintermediates third-party profiteers from seniors and caregivers
Directs benefit to those who actually provide care
Creates meaningful care, bonds and legacy across generations
Extends care to nearby seniors less able to afford it
Trains, maintains and increases local caregiving resources
Establishes ongoing care properties in local communities
De-leverages gentrification to keeping generations, assets, and care in local communities
Ethically, The Stonewall Bridge rests on these ideals
No older adults should age alone without proper care, support, and company.
Older adults should not have to leave homes, neighborhoods, and friends to move into facilities.
LGBTQ+ seniors should be cared for by people who understand, respect, and honor their lives.
Younger LGBTQ+ generations need and deserve support to have a good financial future and meaningful vocation.
Queer generations have a stake in each others’ lives.
The truest vision of Queer family is that older and younger LGBTQ+ generations take care of each other in meaningful ways. We must care for those who care for us.
At its heart, The Stonewall Bridge does what multigenerational families have always done: ensure a safe, fulfilling, supportive old age for older adults and support the generations who care for them. Designed for 21st-century needs and realities, The Stonewall Bridge ensures the old age we want and the legacy for those who help ensure it.
The Stonewall Bridge Resources
For more information about The Stonewall Bridge and how it works
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