a publication of the sexuality and aging consortium at widener university

Home Sweet home for our LGBT Seniors

For our LGBT Seniors, a Home Sweet Home

By: Terri Clark, Consortium Member http://www.widener.edu/academics/schools/shsp/hss/sex_aging/members/clark.aspx

 The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, just got a little more LGBT friendly this November, as the ground breaking ceremony was held for construction on a six-story affordable housing building that will feature 56 one-bedroom units, with a 5,000 square-foot enclosed courtyard, “generous” multi-purpose spaces intended for residents and the larger community.

The development, located at 249 S. 13th Street in the Philly’s historic “gayborhood,” is being named after John C. Anderson, a member of Philadelphia’s City Council from 1979 to 1984 who was instrumental to the passage of civil-rights legislation protecting sexual minorities. The facility, spearheaded by the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund and Pennrose Properties, is slated to open in late 2013.

This housing development addresses a critical need for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender seniors who face enormous challenges in finding welcoming and affordable housing, along with other needed aging services such as healthcare and long term care. As older adults with increasing needs, the pioneers of the GLBT movement are being forced back into the closet in order to receive the quality care and housing they need.  LGBT seniors are less likely to participate in general community activities and access the services they need because they fear judgment, rejection, or compromised care.  As a result, LGBT seniors often do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, or, at even greater risk to their health and wellbeing, remain isolated without access to community and healthcare services.

Old age often hits LGBT seniors hard.  The need for services to the aging LGBT community is well documented.  In 2005, the Mid-America Institute on Poverty found a significant demand for LGBT retirement communities, with nearly 65 percent of participants being interested in living in an affordable rental housing geared toward mature LGBT individuals and couples.  The most reported reason for wanting to living in LGBT senior rental housing was the prospect of living with people who had similar life experiences and views.  Other reasons included acceptance, comfort, safety, and an opportunity to meet people.

The creation of this senior residence in Philadelphia is particularly fitting in that Philly and Pennsylvania led the way in many gay civil rights achievements.  The first gay rights march took place in front of Independence Hall in 1965.  Philadelphia was one of the first cities to pass anti-gay discrimination legislation in 1982.

This article was originally published: http://articles.philly.com/2012-11-11/news/35035169_1_lgbt-community-low-income-seniors-philadelphia-gay-news

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