LGBT Seniors Say They Face Additional Challenges Finding Affordable Housing Because of Their Sexual Orientation
By Erin Clarke
As we continue our Pride Week coverage, we're taking a look at the challenges before the LGBT community. Bronx reporter Erin Clarke tells us about the struggles LGBT seniors often face.
Geonaldo Genao has been searching for a new home for years.
It's hard enough for seniors to find affordable housing in the city, and on top of that, the disabled 66-year-old says he faces another challenge — because he's gay.
"I filled out a lot of papers and they, sometimes they call me," Genao said. "They reject me."
It's difficult to prove that Genao has been rejected because of his sexual orientation, but there are many stories like his among the LGBT community.
"As you come through the door, just one look and they say 'Oh, ok.' They'll take your application and do whatever, but I'm sure by the time you get around the corner (they) tear it up and throw it out," said Joyce Banks.
A 2014 national study by a civil-rights non-profit found that 48 percent of older same-sex couples were treated differently than heterosexual couples who inquired about senior housing.
The same-sex couples received less information about available units, were given higher costs and a more extensive application process.
"It is veiled, we know it exists," said Michael Adams, CEO of Services & Advocacy for "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE). We hear it from our constituents."
To combat that issue, the advocacy group for LGBT elders, SAGE, is building the city's first senior housing with comprehensive on-site services specifically for the LGBT community in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
The 82-unit building in the Bronx cost $30 million and was partially funded by the Bronx Borough President and openly gay Councilman Ritchie Torres, who contributed capital funding.
"There are no housing options currently in New York City that are geared towards LGBT elders so we have a historic opportunity to fill that void," said Bronx City Councilman Ritchie Torres.
And the building will be on Crotona Park North where this parking lot is. SAGE expects to break ground next year.
Providing a sense of home for LGBT seniors, many who far too often end up aging in isolation.
"This will be great. You know gay seniors can live quiet in peace."