One recently opened residential building for older adults in Manhattan received an astounding 65,000 applications for its 99 units. The lack of affordable housing can be particularly difficult for older adults who have navigated challenges their entire lives.
From helping aging entertainment professionals access healthcare to developing culturally appropriate housing for South Asian elders, The Trust is supporting the most vulnerable older New Yorkers. Recently we addressed housing problems among LGBTQ older adults, many of whom have experienced a lifetime of discrimination.
The Westchester Community Foundation, in partnership with The Loft, commissioned a needs assessment to determine the size of the county’s LGBTQ population, its needs, and how to better coordinate services. The study found that a lack of LGBTQ-friendly options was a top barrier to accessing social services; the researchers also made recommendations for housing and training homecare workers.
More than half of same-sex older couples experience discrimination when seeking homes. Many are priced out and even pushed into homelessness. Grants to SAGE, which advocates for and serves LGBTQ+ elders, helped open the state’s first LGBTQ-welcoming affordable senior housing in Brooklyn in December 2019 and in the Bronx last March. The Trust enabled SAGE to develop application processes to ensure a majority of residents are LGBTQ and at least 25 percent are people who were formerly homeless, and to create new LGBTQ-affirming services, including support groups.
“Seniors can suddenly experience poverty, even people who were never poor in their lives.” – Bill Meehan
Bill Meehan, a resident at SAGE’s Brooklyn center, said, “I was really at wit’s end about how I was going to stay in Jackson Heights, but it was just impossible economically. My rent was 90 percent of my Social Security and Social Security was 90 percent of my income.”
“A lot of people here are survivors—whether they’re formerly homeless or gay people,” Meehan said. “Life has not been the easiest, and yet they made it and that’s something to celebrate. It’s a story of people living together from various communities and doing well. It breaks myths about what homelessness is and what seniors are like. We have something here that’s really good.”
With funding from The Trust last year, SAGE expanded virtual and in-person services. It opened LGBTQ-friendly centers that serve the entire older adult community, offering classes, free meals, and access to mental and physical healthcare.
“Seniors can suddenly experience poverty, even people who were never poor in their lives,” said Meehan. “All of a sudden they outspend their savings—all you need is one major medical catastrophe, even with good insurance. So it’s places like this that will deal with those kinds of problems.”