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SCDC Launches Two Brain Trust Projects to Explore Issues of LGBTQ Senior Housing in NYC

Stonewall Community Development Corporation (SCDC) is working to ensure that older LGBTQ adults in New York City have access to affordable welcoming housing and related health and mental health services. We are committed to creating New York City-specific, evidence -based solutions to this complicated and difficult challenge.

We have been recruiting some of the top talent in the City onto our board of directors and we are now activating that talent through two “Brain Trust” projects: Bricks and Mortar and Health and Mental Health Services Provision.

Both groups will be convening key players in related industries over the next four months to consider the challenges and opportunities in trying to do this work in New York City, and to formulate innovative workarounds and solutions.

The Bricks and Mortar Brain Trust includes SCDC Board Members:

Erica Forman

(Real Estate Attorney,

Brian Cave Leighton Paisner);

Matthias Hollwich (Principle Hollwich Kushner Architects)

Karen Haycox (CEO,

Habitat for Humanity NYC)

Melvin Browning

(Associate Counsel,

NYS Liquidation Bureau).

Joined by

Todd Shapiro

(Managing Director,

Hollwich Kushner)

and Jack Esterson

(Principle, Think Architects)

and SCDC Advisory Board Member

Sam Hersh (Policy Advisor for Coastal Resiliency at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Resiliency.

More participants and partners will be announced in the next few weeks.

Our goal is to create an invitation-only design charrette that will excite the industry and open up the discussion. We began our inquiry by addressing challenges and obstacles to creating affordable LGBTQ-senior housing in New York City (lotteries, size requirements for individual units, the complexities of LGBTQ homeless outreach, etc).

It was agreed that the three current all-affordable LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing projects currently in various stages of coming online (Crotona Park, Ingersoll Houses and Haven Green) will be working to resolve NYC Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) issues in real time and that we do not want to interfere in their processes, though we stand ready to help if asked.

Therefore, the design challenge will focus on theoretical and experimental alternative models that achieve design and programming advantages that could make building these units more commercially viable, lessening or eliminating reliance on government funding. Solutions would be considered to address the needs of a wide socio-economic spectrum of the community; explore models of mixed use and cross subsidy; remove current design boundaries; and explore alternative funding and investment schemas.

The Health & Mental Health Brain Trust Subcommittee includes Board Members:


Marianne Nicolosi

(Executive Director,

Bay Ridge Senior Center);

Tom Smith

(RN Administrator,


Gretchen Ty (Harm Reduction

Program Coordinator

at Housing Works)

and Advisory Board Member

Matthew Lesieur

(Director of Public Policy

at VillageCare).

More participants and partners will be announced in the next few weeks.

Our research shows us that the LGBTQ aging community has more pronounced health and mental health challenges than the general aging population. If we are creating buildings where LGBTQ seniors are the majority of tenants, what is the baseline of service we have to ensure – what would ideal service delivery look like.

More specifically:

What medical and mental health services can/should we commit to providing?

How many clients do we need to make providing these services financially feasible?

How can LGBTQ older adults (and other “orphaned” seniors) who are aging in place in the neighborhoods surrounding our buildings potentially be supplemental clients for onsite services?

The goal of this brain trust is to formulate ideal service delivery scenarios, subject them to cost benefit analyses and come up with a realistic but enhanced service delivery proposal. They will work to identify the most critical elements and the policy barriers to realizing them and generate workarounds where possible and a manifesto of policy change the sector can endorse, to address remaining policy barriers to solutions.

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