It’s the beginning of a new year—and as this recent issue of SAGEMatters demonstrates, SAGE continues to launch initiatives that transform the lives of LGBT older people nationwide!
Of foremost importance is the launch of SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative, a nationwide, multi-year initiative to ensure that millions of LGBT older people are able to access LGBT-friendly housing. A growing body of research—and SAGE’s experience nationwide—decisively demonstrates how difficult it is for LGBT older people to find appropriate housing. For example, a national study last year documented that an astonishing 44% of LGBT older people applying for “senior housing” face discrimination just because of who they are. Moreover, LGBT older people lack legal protections that could address this discrimination. This housing crisis is exacerbated by the fact that many LGBT older people enter their later lives with smaller support systems and diminished financial security. In this issue, we discuss how SAGE and our national partners will correct this gross inequality—by building housing, training housing providers, changing policy, educating consumers and expanding services. The time for this coordinated national initiative is now.
SAGE’s positive impact on the day-to-day lives of LGBT older people across the country has never been more apparent. One of our recent studies documented why SAGE’s mission is so important. In October, SAGE released Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75. This seminal research report details findings from a uniquely comprehensive, national study of LGBT older people, led by Harris Poll on behalf of SAGE. It found that LGBT older people face endemic levels of discrimination in housing and among health care providers, report increasingly smaller support networks, and are deeply distressed about when or whether they can retire (among other findings). SAGE’s study significantly expands the knowledge on this subject—and serves as a call to action to health and aging providers, as well as leaders in the public and private sectors to create LGBTfriendly and responsive services, products and programs.
This fall we also saw the continued leadership of SAGE and SAGE affiliates. In October, SAGE leaders from 27 affiliates in 20 states and D.C. gathered to discuss the best ways to support LGBT older people in their diverse communities. In New York City—home to SAGE’s national headquarters—SAGE is in the midst of a dramatic expansion of our programs to address the needs of all LGBT elders no matter where they live. We’re working with partner organizations across New York—including GRIOT Circle, the country’s leading organization dedicated specifically to the needs of LGBT elders of color. We’re proud to profile GRIOT’s critically important work and our partnership in this issue of SAGEMatters. We’re also proud to have recently launched SAGEDay, a collaboration between SAGE and Hebrew Home at Riverdale that will offer intensive activities to frail and largely homebound LGBT elders who otherwise would be isolated at home or forced prematurely into institutional care. And we recently premiered SAGEVets, a path-breaking initiative that will help LGBT elder veterans access the essential benefits they deserve but have been denied for decades.
Here at SAGE, we’ve packed a lot of important advances into the last few months, and a lot is packed into this latest issue of SAGEMatters. Together, we are truly changing the landscape for LGBT older people across the country!
Executive Director, SAGE