For LGBT+ people, particularly those who are vulnerable, elderly or on low incomes, housing is a huge social issue.
At the first-ever PinkNews Ageing Summit on Tuesday (May 14), Sydney Kopp-Richardson, director of the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative at SAGE USA, raised the issues of poverty, xenophobia and immigration and the way these issues shut people out of accessing affordable housing.
SAGE currently provides LGBT+ friendly housing and a sage, affirming space for LGBT+ people in five boroughs of New York City.
Anna Kear, chief executive officer for Tonic Housing, said that we have the same hurdles to overcome in the UK when it comes to housing. She said that the way we access housing is all about wealth and income, and understanding the whole picture of where someone is coming from is crucial to providing safe housing.
Tonic Housing sets out to provide LGBT+ retirement communities for those who have perhaps lost social connections through leaving work, and LGBT+ people who want to live around others with whom they have something in common.
This housing model will allow residents to have simple conversations, without having to come out to each new person they meet. The mutual support of this community space for ageing LGBT+ individuals can even remove the need for care homes later in life.
Housing and isolation among older LGBT+ people
On the issue of social isolation, housing can have a profound impact on whether or not people are making connections.
HouseProud, a professional network for LGBT+ people working in the housing sector, found that only 43 percent of LGBT+ social housing residents felt a connection to the local area, compared to 82 percent of other residents.
Low income LGBT+ people can feel disenfranchised from their local community due to being LGBT+ and excluded from the LGBT+ community due to financial difficulties.
According to Tina Wathern, director of national engagement for Stonewall Housing, more LGBT+ people over the age of 55 are using the Stonewall Housing advice line than ever before.
Wathern drew a strong parallel between austerity and ageing LGBT+ individuals who are vulnerable or struggling, due to the increase in insecure tenancies, a lack of social housing and more reported harassment.
She maintains that housing providers must be trained to be inclusive, and said there’s a great deal that both the main housing providers and the government can do to improve the housing experience for elderly LGBT+ people.
See PinkNews’ full Ageing Summit report below: