THE BIG IDEA
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; to live in poverty; and to experience discrimination in housing and health care delivery. Our goal is to provide LGBTQ seniors with supportive, affordable and safe housing options.
Mayor de Blasio’s bold affordable housing plan demands and encourages new strategies of public/private partnership and new models of mixed use and mixed income, with an emphasis on addressing a greater range of incomes in affordable projects, with a strong focus on mandatory inclusionary strategies.
Land is hard to come by and many new projects will have to be built on small, challenging sites. Beyond that, small communities can provide unique psycho-social advantages for elders. What does this mean for new affordable units with supportive elder care, which has generally relied on larger buildings with more units in order to provide the income necessary to support the services?
SCDC is committed to leveraging this very bold moment in time to develop innovative strategies to address the unique housing needs of NYC’s LGBTQ elders. We have created working relationships with a stable of commercial developers. Our board of directors has deep grassroots in the LGBTQ community. We will conduct research and community outreach in the five boroughs to ascertain existing local needs, challenges and opportunities as perceived by the communities; and to work with commercial developers, service providers and vendors to model financing, revenue and service provision pro formas that can meet those needs in a financially sustainable way.
None of this can or should happen without the discovery process we are proposing. In fact, it is modelled on NYC HPD’s new office of Neighborhood Strategies, which seeks to coordinate its sister agencies in planning, finance and service delivery to respond to the needs and desires of communities as expressed by the communities themselves.
There is no one size fits all answer. Because we have established relationships within both the commercial development community and the grassroots LGBTQ community, we are in a unique position to moderate this conversation and discovery process at very local levels, which is exactly what needs to happen if these projects are to successfully address the needs of LGBTQ elders.