Stonewall Community Development Corporation
Value Proposition Statement
OUR VISION: To see LGBTQ+ older adults in New York in welcoming home environments they can afford, with culturally competent services that meet their unique medical and psycho-social needs.
THE ISSUE: LGBTQ+ seniors face all the issues and challenges that all aging persons face: Declining health and physical ability; loss of lifetime spouses, partners, and friends, often resulting in isolation and loneliness; anxiety in the face of an uncertain future.
In addition, the LGBTQ+ older adult population faces high poverty rates and a lack of family caregiving networks. Finally, too many LGBTQ+ seniors face discrimination within the senior housing and service industries. Already rigorously documented, this dynamic is likely to become even more egregious due to the recent decision by the current federal administration to remove LGBTQ+ as a category for policy study in the annual national senior needs assessment.
OUR VALUE ADD as a brick and mortar partner is our non-profit status, our community development corporation toolkit, our ongoing market profile research, and the ground game we are building through community education and organizing. All of this work will be invaluable for creating community support for land use processes, raising legacy funds, and creation a trained-up pre-marketing audience.
OUR UNIQUE ROLE: Stonewall Community Development Corporation (SCDC) is a 501c3 community development corporation with access to all the benefits and contractual advantages this type of organizational structure permits: receiving and processing tax credits and government grants; local and national building and zoning compliance issues; community outreach and relations; and the managing of service contracts as they relate to the operation of affordable housing that benefits and does not exclude the LGBTQ+ community.
SCDC will build an ongoing body of data on the housing, health, and mental health needs specific to our New York City LGBTQ+ older adult population, in order to formulate and test evidence-based strategies for meeting those unique needs through innovative housing models, with on-site medical and mental health services whenever appropriate and possible.
We will work in partnership with residential developers and service providers throughout the five boroughs to build housing and onsite services appropriate to this specific market. Working cooperatively and with a deep respect for those who over many years have laid the foundations on which our work stands, SCDC will vet, hire, and oversee culturally-competent medical, mental health, and home care providers. We hold “aging in place” as the preferred model when desired and possible. We seek ways to provide direct access to our onsite medical and mental health services to older LGBTQ+ adults living in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Though our goal is evidence-based optimal models, that will not prevent us from seizing opportunities to create standard housing units now. We need to anticipate the exponential pressure that the baby boomers will place on aging adult service provision and prepare for it, but we must also build now, where we can with what we have, to assuage the existing affordable housing crisis.
OUR VALUES: We are committed to addressing these housing and health needs for LGBTQ+ seniors across the spectrum of wellness and physical ability, from independent through supported or assisted living, across the full economic spectrum, from deeply affordable to mixed-income, mixed-use, and cross-subsidized apartments.
RESEARCH RESULTS: Results from our NYC field research correspond to previous national data that shows that health and mental health issues are more pronounced with LGBTQ+ seniors than with their heterosexual counterparts. We believe that further research may warrant the creation of LGBTQ+-specific senior medical practices.
We see this reality as a result of decades of discrimination, now a major contributing factor in the current housing challenge. Today, widening gaps in policy and practice are resulting in the categorical underserving of this population. Further, housing policies at every level of government present legal obstacles to the obvious remedy of building affordable housing and related services specifically for LGBTQ+ seniors.
PROMISE AND POSSIBILITY: Nevertheless, LGBTQ+-friendly housing projects are being built across the country, albeit with varying degrees of success. The fact that we are not the first to grapple with the issue means that hope is not just possible but realistic. Learning from both the successes and failures of those who have gone before and combining that knowledge with ongoing NYC field data which we are constantly collecting and analyzing increases our odds of not only addressing the issue but of contributing to what is becoming a national and international movement to make sure LGBTQ+ seniors have the comfort and security they deserve and in fact have earned.
HIGHLY EDUCATED AND ECONOMICALLY DIVERSE: SCDC has recently completed an NYC-wide survey that assessed housing and related health service needs of LGBTQ+ seniors. The response from the community was significantly stronger than anticipated, suggesting that the problem is even more critical than is commonly thought.
With 966 respondents, we nearly doubled our initial target goal of 500 surveys. Whenever possible, the survey design drew on validated questions and city-defined criteria for affordable housing. The report on this survey provides the most significant market profile of this population to date.
The LGBTQ+ older adult population in New York City represents an extremely well educated, but often under-resourced community. In our recent survey, 71.9% of the sample had a four-year college degree or higher, even though more than 50% of the sample were under 50% Area Median Income (AMI) and 23.5% were under 30% AMI. This represents a highly educated pool of low-income applicants.
According to the survey, the desire to live in environments that are LGBTQ+-competent and friendly is a key factor in their decisions. This represents a community affinity that cuts across socioeconomic lines, making integration of various AMI levels more organic and seamless, and mixed-income and cross-subsidy models more likely to succeed.
The LGBTQ+ community in NYC is politically savvy and well connected. We are deeply experienced and creatively skillful at standing up for our rights, thanks in large measure to the diversity of our political coalition, which cuts across race, ethnicity, and socio-economic advantage.
All of these traits make us an excellent community partner when facing geographic communities that might initially be unduly hostile to affordable and/or senior housing in general, as so many are. To phrase this from another perspective: While it is absolutely the right thing to do, building LGBTQ+-friendly housing brings strengths and advantages to the challenge of providing decent, affordable housing to all NYC seniors.
LEGAL REALITIES: Given that it is currently illegal to exclude non-LGBTQ+ seniors from LGBTQ+-friendly senior housing, one of the main challenges of creating successful LGBTQ+-friendly senior housing is in trying to ensure at least a majority of the tenants that lease-up are LGBTQ+. Community communications during the pre-marketing phase are key, assuming set-asides can be achieved for the NYC lottery process.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: SCDC will build on the success of our initial survey through ongoing research and development, with field data collection built into all of our activities. The goals are to:
Create an NYC-specific evidence-based platform of knowledge from which to model potential building projects. as well as attendant senior services delivery and clinical eldercare specific to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ seniors, housed within our buildings
Develop a pool of trained and qualified LGBTQ+ senior applicants who have prepared themselves and their documents for successful housing applications
Pre-qualify this pool of applicants for smooth transitioning to Medicaid and Medicare through document preparedness and asset compliance
Enforce a standard of LGBTQ+ and aging cultural competency that must be met by all applicants, vendors, and service providers
Identify geographically-specific concentrations of LGBTQ+ elders currently living in close proximity to potential development sites, which can be relied on to justify onsite LGBTQ+ senior-specific services. These LGBTQ+ NORCs (“Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities”) will also make it more possible to track health and mental wellness trends within these communities.
PARTNER NETWORKS: SCDC has already made significant progress in building two critical partner networks:
Building Development: Developers, financiers, architects, and government policy agents.
Health & Wellness: Medical providers, social service organizations, home care providers, community-based organizations
We are identifying and convening the thought leaders within these networks. This “brain trust” helps SCDC process the data we are mining and helps us develop solutions and innovations that can bridge policy gaps and identify service priorities
SCDC CAPACITY: Stonewall Community Development Corporation (SCDC) is ideally suited to play the multiple roles described above.
The SCDC Board of Directors provides both breadth and depth of experience in urban planning, real estate development, government relations, capital projects, government funding, community and political organizing, community development, community boards, housing law, human rights, geriatric care, nursing, home care, and not-for-profit management.
Executive Director Paul Nagle has more than 20 years in not-for-profit business development and strategic growth. He served for eight years in direct government service, working for an NYC City Council Member. In that capacity, he served as Budget Director, overseeing all capital grant contracts for the District’s community-based organizations. He also worked extensively on affordable artists’ housing as an economic development policy issue.
SUMMARY: Stonewall Community Development Corporation is taking an evidence-based approach to developing and implementing innovative responses to the growing crisis in LGTBQ+-friendly senior housing. Given New York City’s ambitious affordable housing goals, the time is right for policy elasticity and the consideration of new, more entrepreneurial approaches to building affordable housing for LGBTQ+ older adults. With that opportunity will come the challenge of providing suitable medical and mental health services.
SCDC is well positioned in every respect to meet this ambitious but critically needed goal.