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National LGBT Elder Housing Symposium. This is what I learned.

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Just back from the National LGBT Elder Housing Symposium (video below), Planning Today, Thriving Tomorrow: Housing Innovations for Aging LGBT Communities held by SAGE in Washington DC.

It was an amazing confluence of the nation’s most prolific LGBTQ+ advocacy leaders, community development specialists, financiers, housing specialists, LGBTQ+ providers, prospective LGBTQ+ housing providers, strategist and policy advisors. My takeaways from my perspective as a LGBTQ+ cultural training provider are:

I am encouraged by the number of organizations who are in varying stages of readiness to build LGBTQ+ elder housing in their communities. Yet, it is clear that new housing will provide a safe home for only a small number of fortunate people who are aware of the opportunity and can successfully navigate the application process.

I am affirmed in our mission that we must keep moving forward on creating LGBTQ+ Affirming and Welcoming communities and services in the housing that currently exists and within elders' homes and communities where they live and desire to age in place.

I am excited by the opportunities inherent in the inclusion of community spaces in the concept plans and execution of the LGBTQ+ elder housing developments and providers’ commitment to reach out to the greater communities in which they reside to provide affirming and welcoming services to those elders who do not live in the units and/or may be homeless.

I am amazed by the expanse, engagement and commitment of the variety partners required to build LGBTQ+ elder housing, the foundations and funders, financial advisors and institutions, the cities and counties who see the value both for the residents and community members served but also to the economic viability of the communities where they are built. I am impressed by their patience as these projects can take up to ten years to come to fruition. My hope is that these collaborations across sectors will eventually normalize the concept of affirming and welcoming housing and services for LGBTQ+ elders and move the conversation from its current outlier status in elder housing and care.

I learned that the intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ and Same Gender Loving communities is where we should focus our training and services while make sure that we serve and honor the unique challenges and needs of each of the communities. The term person- directed care in healthcare and long-term care fields is applicable to this work. There are also great opportunities to be cultivated through the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ elders and LGBTQ+ youth that can enhance positive outcomes for both groups.

I am reminded by the amazing trailblazer Barbara Satin to “lead with the heart” as we strive to serve all in the LGBTQ+ community and their families and allies with the honor and support that they deserve while we as a mission driven company traverse this unpredictable and sparsely trodden path to building an economic vehicle for LGBTQ+ community members to do this work.

Provided to participants at the conference by SAGE was a great resource, Understanding the Affordable Housing Development Process – A Primer for LGBT Aging Providers. You can read more information at

Sage was the first organization to provide training to LGBTQ+ elder care providers and their efforts has informed our work at LGBT Senior Housing and Care. Our mission is to build capacity to provide LGBTQ+ cultural humility, sensitivity and competency training to elder care service and housing providers and to support the financial opportunities of LGBTQ+ elders by training them to present this work.

Thank you SAGE and Director Sydney Kopp-Richardson, National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative for putting together this eye opening event. The star studded cast included:

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