Study: Housing a major concern for LGBT seniorsAround the City Thursday, May 19th, 2011
As San Diego’s LGBT baby boomers begin to retire this year, they are facing unique challenges ranging from culturally competent healthcare to financial concerns to LGBT-affirming housing options, according to a new study released by The Center.
Entitled LGBT San Diego’s Trailblazing Generation, this is the second survey conducted by The Center to assess the needs of the local LGBT senior community. The first was a comprehensive study in 2004. This year’s survey focused specifically on housing needs.
“There is a concern that if the LGBT community doesn’t help to either provide some of the services or to work with mainstream organizations that do provide senior housing and related senior services, then we have a group of folks who are going to be stigmatized and marginalized again, and perhaps go back in the closet,” said Jim Zians, Ph.D., the research consultant who prepared the survey on behalf of The Center. “That’s something we don’t want to happen.”
This San Diego report confirmed many of the national findings regarding the unique characteristics and challenges facing LGBT seniors. The top four conclusions include: 1) Concerns regarding the lack of family, community and social support, and fears about increasing social isolation; 2) Concerns regarding the lack of access to culturally competent healthcare, mental health services and social services; 3) Financial concerns; and 4) The lack of safe, LGBT-affirmative affordable housing options. The complete 29-page report is available online at thecentersd.org.
“I think there are a collection of concerns, not just a single one; concerns regarding safe, affordable housing, concerns about the cultural competence of some service providers, concerns that revolve around isolation and lack of family support and supportive resources, financial concerns regarding the post-recession adequacy of their financial resources and the diminishing social safety net that can help to sustain them post-retirement,” said Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO for The Center.
“There has been a desire to begin working on issues of senior housing and, as our LGBT population is aging, to assist them to remain in their homes as long as possible. In order to remain in their home, they need LGBT culturally appropriate services to help them do that,” Zians said, adding, “And if they do need to find alternative places to live that they have LGBT affirmative housing for them.”
The Center is using the results as a guide to develop programs to address these needs. The survey lists LGBT senior housing recommendations, senior care-related services and mental health service recommendations, and community participation opportunity recommendations.
“Addressing the list of recommendations will require the attention and assistance of all of us; our LGBT and allied organizations and our community members, each has a part they can play,” Jacobs said. “There are opportunities for all kinds of community organizations and members to help.”
Jacobs addresses the concerns in this issue’s EpiCenter column.
“Every community once they start to become a viable community, they take of their youth and take care of their seniors, and here we are,” Zians said. “I think we’ve met our moment as an LGBT community and realized this is a priority.”
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