HUD Hosts First-Ever Summit on Housing for LGBT Seniors
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hosted the first-ever federal summit on housing for LGBT elders in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Representatives from Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the Center on Halsted in Chicago, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Senior Citizen Law Center, the Transgender Aging Network and the National Center for Lesbian Rights were among those who attended the forum. HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Raphael Bostic opened the gathering, while HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña and Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee also addressed the summit.
"Senior citizens and older adults have challenges already," Bostic told EDGE. "LGBT seniors have a particular set of challenges that make them unique and more vulnerable."
Panels focused on support services for affordable housing, discrimination and legal barriers to accessing long-term care, challenges to LGBT housing developments and policy recommendations.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides 80 activities each month at their Hollywood campus and other facilities throughout the metropolitan area. Up to an estimated 89,000 LGBT seniors live in Los Angeles, but up to 75 percent of them live alone.
"That type of isolation can be detrimental to them," said Kathleen Sullivan, the Center’s Director of Senior Services.
Transgender seniors often face a unique set of challenges as they grow older. A report that the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released earlier this year found that trans people are nearly four times as likely to have a household income of less than $10,000 a year. As a consequence, they are more likely to have a lower retirement income and less likely to afford market-rate housing.
Trans people are also more susceptible to discrimination from doctors and other health care providers.
"We’re really talking about the structural drivers that put us into affordable housing," said Regina Quattrochi, chief executive officer of Bailey House, an organization that provides affordable housing to people with HIV/AIDS in New York City. "Activism is really what we need here."
HUD has taken several steps to address housing disparities among LGBT Americans. The agency announced in June 2010 that prospective grant recipients must comply with local and state anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. HUD also unveiled a new media campaign in April designed to ensure that LGBT Americans have equal access to housing.