Due to higher levels of financial insecurity and a general lack of affordable housing, many LGBT elders find that they cannot afford homes in the communities they may have lived in for years. Others face harassment and intimidation in their homes and in long-term care settings from aging professionals, other residents, and even their own family members. In recent years, LGBT aging advocates have begun addressing these housing insecurities through a variety of approaches, including developing LGBT-specific housing; working with local housing providers to educate them about LGBT issues and their rights; informing LGBT elders about their rights under the Fair Housing Act; developing innovative programs such as "homesharing"; and connecting LGBT elders to LGBT-friendly services, including housing supports, in their distinct geographic communities.
LGBT older adults deserve secure, stable and affordable housing, yet often face harassment and intimidation in their homes and in long-term care settings from aging professionals and other residents. This means that many LGBT elders live in physically and emotionally unhealthy environments that compromise the quality of their lives. Read more about the need for LGBT housing. ▶
Further, research shows that many LGBT elders face discrimination when buying or renting a home. A 2009 study by Michigan's Fair Housing Centers found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home. Another study found that 33 percent of gay and lesbian respondents though they would have to hide their sexual identities if they moved to a retirement home.
In addition, due to higher levels of financial insecurity and lack of affordable housing, many LGBT elders find that they cannot afford homes in the communities they may have lived in for years. LGBT older adults of color face even greater disparities in income and ability to save, due to fewer resources, racial discrimination, and less economic capital. In one study of nearly 500 LGBT older adults in San Diego, 45% reported varying levels of difficulty paying their monthly mortgage and rent, 37% reported having difficulty affording their monthly utility bills, and 41% reported difficulty affording monthly food and household expenses.
The housing landscape for many transgender people remains equally unstable. A national survey on transgender people found that 19 percent of respondents had been refused a home or apartment and 11 percent had been evicted because of transgender-related discrimination. Findings from a 2009 report on LGBT health and human services in New York State show that three times as many transgender people were currently (3.7 percent) or formerly (29.6 percent) homeless, as compared to their non-transgender counterparts. Read a policy and practice report on the issues facing transgender elders. ▶
In recent years, several housing developments and retirement communities targeted to LGBT older adults have opened around the country. In addition, some of the current and upcoming housing developments are aimed at low-income LGBT older adults, and are able to offer subsidized rents, extended long-term lease options, and the peace of mind that comes with having a stable home. Learn more about this trend. ▶
Recognizing that LGBT-specific housing will never be able to house the more than 3 million LGBT elders who will populate the U.S. over the next few decades, advocates are also devising other approaches to housing, such as working with housing providers at the local level to educate them on LGBT issues. In Missouri, SAGE Metro St. Louis is working with the City of St. Louis and the Metropolitan St. Louis Housing and Opportunity Council to ensure LGBT safe and welcoming senior housing. Read more about their work in the Fall 2012 issue of SAGEMatters. ▶
Advocates are also exploring other approaches for broadening housing options for LGBT older people. In Chicago, the SAGE Center on Halsted has launched an innovative "homesharing" program, and in New York City, SAGE Harlem connects LGBT older adults with resources throughout the Harlem community to ensure their home communities are responsive to their needs.
Additionally, LGBT older people can protect themselves from housing discrimination by learning about related housing laws. LGBT individuals may have protections under the Federal Housing Act for discrimination based on gender and disability. Learn how to protect yourself as an LGBT person, with further information for transgender people.
To learn more about housing issues and LGBT elders, please contact Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications, at 212-741-2247 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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