Like most LGBT people, you may not think regularly about our seniors and their needs. Did you ever note how few of them are out at community events, with the exceptions of fundraisers and benefits? But those at events where they can contribute are those with funds -- the ones the mainstream media like to stereotype us by: rich white men.
The reality is we are not all rich, well-to-do, or even comfortable. Some members of our community are poor, some even homeless, and as a community we almost ignored those individuals while fighting equality in marriage and military and other issues. But note, the mark of a true community is dealing with the most endangered in your community. In our community there are two groups that fall into that category: youth (and we've really begun to address those concerns) and seniors, for whom we are only in the pioneering stage.
Did you know in a recent study that 13 percent of LGBT seniors are concerned about housing? Many worry they'll be put into senior-housing situations where they will be harassed, and others worry they will not even qualify because of discrimination. Others are already being mistreated in their current housing. Then there are those who are homeless.
There is little being done in our community nationally to begin to solve these problems thus far. There is only one affordable senior living facility that is specifically LGBT-friendly in the nation at present. Philadelphia's groundbreaking project is under construction and will open next year. Likewise, Chicago will be next up. After that, there are plans for San Francisco to have a groundbreaking on 40 units by 2015. But, nationwide, that is it.
How bad is the need? Last week here in Philly we had our first public meeting to explain how interested residents can qualify. We expected about 30 people. We put out chairs for 50, but that was not enough: it was standing-room only. I could tell you some of their stories here but let me leave you with a counter-debate on that mainstream-media report that we're all rich. The minimum annual income to qualify is $8,000. There were people in that room who did not. You read that write, they earned less then $8000,00 a yaer
What are we doing for them?