HUD Hosts First-Ever Summit for LGBT Seniors

On Dec. 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights held a first-ever national summit on LGBT seniors at HUD’s headquarters.

In a blog posting, HUD official Sam Mullins explained that the summit’s goals were to discuss current barriers lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) seniors face in securing housing, analyze what is causing this issue, and plan for solutions. The day-long event included LGBT community workers, advocates, and speakers from across the nation.

Mullins participated in a panel on Community Support Services for Non-Institutional Affordable Housing and Institutional Housing Settings. The panel was composed of three workers from across the country involved in LGBT senior housing affairs, who discussed many of the issues they face daily in the LGBT housing field.

Some of the largest problems facing aging LGBT groups include feelings of isolation, depression, and fear of rejection, and the mental stress of being gay can add to these factors. Between 64 to 75 percent of LGBT seniors live alone, much higher than the percentage of their straight counterparts. The feeling of isolation that can stem from this is one of the main problems that senior LGBT programs across the country are looking to combat. The panelists all spoke of programs that are specifically designed to bring seniors into community centers and engage them in meaningful, helpful daily activities that not only provide recreational opportunities, but also the chance to socialize and spend time in safe, comfortable surroundings.

Taking these ideas a step further, many of the community centers are creating programs to find housing for seniors, and two of the programs on the panel have plans in progress to build LGBT senior housing through a combination of public and private funding.

The summit provided strong signs for the advancement of fair and equal housing to not only LGBT seniors, but to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Americans, according to Mullins. To quote HUD Assistant Secretary Trasviña when speaking to the conference, “You cannot speak relatively of equal housing in the 21st century without addressing LGBT housing opportunities.”

Source: The HUDdle