By Kelly Kent, Director of the SAGE's National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative
An urgent housing crisis in the United States has gone largely unnoticed. With the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population age fifty and above expected to grow from 3 to 7 million by 2030, only about 600 units of affordable housing focused on the needs of the LGBT elderly exist in the U.S. The vast majority of LGBT people who need senior housing in their later years now live in "mainstream" housing communities that aren't equipped with the cultural competency programs to appropriately address the needs of older LGBT populations. Today, an estimated nearly 50% of older same-sex couples applying for senior housing are subjected to discrimination. As a result, many LGBT elders are forced back "into the closet" in their golden years due to a lack of cultural competency on LGBT issues on the part of housing owners and authorities. The effects of this discrimination are further exacerbated by the fact that LGBT older people have lower incomes and less retirement savings, on average, than older Americans.
SAGE is transforming the national landscape of the LGBT aging population and affecting real change in the affordable housing sector for LGBT Americans across the country. As we expand our National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative, Citi Community Development has been a catalytic partner in this effort, which aims to create more LGBT-friendly elder housing options in communities across the country through capacity building, consumer education, advocacy, training and the construction of more LGBT-welcoming housing.
In just over a year of partnership, SAGE and Citi have made great strides together to help ensure that communities across the nation are better equipped to support aging LGBT residents. So far, we have provided technical assistance to sixteen communities as they begin developing LGBT-welcoming housing options, trained more than 1,500 individual housing providers on how to better house and care for LGBT elders, and shared best practices and policy guidance with industry peers. But our efforts and our initiative don't stop there. Last month, SAGE broke ground on the Crotona Senior Residences, a new development in the Bronx, NY that will include more than 84 LGBT-friendly affordable apartments for seniors. With continued support from Citi Community Development, we will further build on our momentum this year.
Citi is also leading the way by financing LGBT-welcoming affordable housing developments. In 2015, Citi Community Capital provided financing to the Town Hall Apartments in Chicago, which provides LGBT-friendly living for seniors. In addition, Citi Community Capital financed True Colors Residence in Harlem, the first permanent housing development in New York City with a preference for 18-24-year-old LGBT young adults with a history of homelessness.
After a 20-year career in the housing industry, I know firsthand that supporting and building inclusive housing is a complex and multifaceted task. But I firmly believe that together with Citi, we can create solutions for the LGBT community that catalyze real and permanent change. To find out more about SAGE's National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative go to www.sageusa.org/lgbthousing.
About the Inclusive Cities Series Citi Community Development collaborates with America's most prominent local public officials, civil rights leaders and community organizations to expand financial access and build more inclusive cities. Through these innovative collaborations, we harness Citi's expertise, products, services and investments to ensure all residents and families have access to opportunity. Inclusive Cities is a new guest blog series where Citi's leading community partners bring to life, through stories of leadership and ingenuity, how their partnership with Citi is driving real urban progress in communities around the U.S.