Progress is being made on a new 40-unit building to augment the very successful affordable senior housing development run by the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing Los Angeles (GLEH).
The building, scheduled to open in 2014, will offer one to three-bedroom apartments for rents averaging between $200 and $800. It will join Triangle Square, which has 104 units and opened its doors on March 22, 2007. For more information, go to http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2013/02/a-new-place-to-call-home/
Yulianus Rettoblaut, 51 and the first transgender person to earn a law degree from an Islamic university, has opened her home to other aging Indonesian “waria,” according to an article and video available at http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/20/worlds-first-home-for-transgender-elderly/
Waria combines the Indoensian word for woman (wanita) and the word for man (pria). Between 3 and 12 waria live at the home (the video and article contradict each other), with as many as 800 on a waiting list. Government funds will provide some food subsidies, while 70 churches are said to provide some support (mostly shelter during floods).
The 7-minute video interviews Rettoblaut and several of her residents and includes stories about her brother’s rejection and ultimate reconciliation. The article also address opposition from the Islamic Defenders Front.
The Huffington Post has produced a 20-minute video, “Retirement Home-ophobia,” that gives a great overview of LGBT housing issues, including interviews with several LGBT elders and housing providers.
But what makes the piece invaluable is a quote from widow Alice Herman that starts around minute 9:20. Talking about the recent loss of her life-partner, she said, “All that made me real was my history. I had a 45-year history of love. And if I couldn’t talk about it, share it, where was my life?”
There, in a nutshell, is why LGBT-affirming services are so critical. Check it out at http://live.huffingtonpost.com/#r/segment/elderly-gays%3B-lgbt-nursing-homes/51140a38fe344437520001da
The Huffington Post has published an article giving advice to older LGBT people considering sharing a home with others: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/12/gay-seniors-housing_n_2664916.html
The article notes that the Center on Halsted in Chicago is the first known program focused on LGBT people, started in 2010. So far, they have matched 11 home- or lease-owners with roommates.
Two informally-arranged homesharing arrangements are also addressed, along with advice on how to draw up documents to legally protect everyone.
Construction began on two new LGBT senior housing developments this fall: Spirit on Lake, a 46-unit development in Minneapolis, and an 80-unit development close to Center on Halsted in Chicago.
For information on the Chicago project, see http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2012/12/19/lgbt-senior-housing
For information on Spirit on Lake, including pictures of the evolving construction site, see their Facebook page.
After many years of development and negotiation, the first affordable housing project in San Francisco to be funded by a trust fund approved by the voters in November will be an LGBT-focused housing development by Openhouse and Mercy Housing California.
The allocation of $6.1 million represents but a downpayment on the 110-unit project, which is estimated to cost $53 million in total. If the remaining funds can be secured, the first tenants may be able to move in in 2015.
For more information, see the Bay Area Reporterweblog at http://ebar.com/blogs/?p=5176
“If you built a[n aging services] business on core values of quality of life, choice, dignity, etc., you have a responsibility to maintain those values no matter who the person is — Christian or Muslim or Hindu or straight or gay.”
So USA Today quoted Jamison Gosselin, spokesman for the Assisted Living Federation of America, in a June 30, 2012, article entitled, “Gay senior centers growing in numbers around the nation” and available at http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-30/gay-senior-centers/55946066/1 The somewhat misleadingly titled article does discuss the new LGBT senior centers opened by SAGE (New York) and the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, but also mentions new housing being built by the Chicao Center on Halstead and outreach work being done by Oklahomans for Equality.
The White House itself rang congratulatory bells last month when the Philadelphia Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) committed to helping fund a new public-private housing initiative in Philadelphia targeted to LGBT elders.
The project, which is to be built on Philadelphia’s 13th Street, between Locust and Spruce, is expected to have 6 stories and 56 bedrooms. It will be available to those who are aged 62 and older who earn less than 60% of the Philadelphia median income. $11 million of the necessary $19 million price tag has now been secured.
The White House memo on the financing, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/16/public-private-partnerships-ingenuity-and-11m-tax-credit-provides-innovative-housing, notes that “Under this Administration, [the Housing and Urban Development Department] has been a leader in advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, and has treated the fight for equality not as an issue, but as a priority.” The memo ends with this memorable line: “And HUD will continute to take an active role in ensuring that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community not only has a seat at the table — but also a place to call home.”
We constantly hear (and perhaps say!) that it’s critical for LGBT elders to have social support services, but we don’t often have the data to back up the statement.
Buried in an April 2012 Bay Area Reporter article on the new building designs unveiled by San Francisco’s openhouse was this gem: “In the last year, openhouse provided 5,600 units of direct services to over 500 LGBT seniors. As a direct result of this work, 82 percent of community members reported improvements in health and well-being and 84 percent said they were better able to remain independent.” Openhouse’s services include “yoga, art groups, and health seminars” as well as social services, and they are currrently launching a Friendly Visitor program. The BAR article is available at http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=67652