Tenants begin shifting into LGBT-friendly senior housing complicated in Bay Shore

A groundbreaking residential complex is now located on Long Island, completed just 50 miles from the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where the modern struggle for LGBTQ rights in the United States began unofficially.

The LGBT network’s LGBT-friendly senior housing and community center has been completed and residents have already moved into a welcoming space for members of the LGBTQ community entering their golden years. The four-story building has 75 affordable one- and two-bedroom rentals that are marketed to members of the LGBTQ community 55+.

According to the LGBT Network, it is the first senior housing project for the LGBTQ community to be built in an American suburb. All other projects of this type are located in major American cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“This is an open community with open arms for all,” said Steven Flotteron, Suffolk County’s legislature, who voted for the LGBT network’s project while serving on the Islip Town Board in 2017. “I was honored to be part of your project and part of the Bay Shore renaissance.”

Flotteron attended an LGBT network press conference at the residential center on Friday, attended by other elected officials, the network’s president and CEO David Kilmnick, and some of the building’s new residents.

“I lived in a dark apartment downstairs …” said Elain Felton, one of the residents of the building. “We have light, we have brightness, it is spacious, it is safe and that is the most important thing for me!

“Because yes, I am a senior. Yes, I am a colored person. Yes, I am part of the LGBT community. And I have the special chance to be one of 75 people who are allowed to live in this great place. “

why it is necessary

While the fight for LGBTQ equality continues to this day, years ago the elders in the community faced more discrimination than their younger counterparts, leading to economic disenfranchisement and the need for affordable housing.

“If we only speak for our older adults, the problems they face now are really a culmination of problems over the years, namely discrimination in the workplace, discrimination in housing,” said Latisha Millard-Bethea, director of the Residential Services from SAGE, an advocacy and resource center for LGBT elders. “And now they really look underpaid for years, especially for some of our trans and colored people. They look at where they are really not as financially stable as they would have been under other circumstances if there was no discrimination involved. “

Sexual orientation discrimination is not the only problem many people in the LGBTQ community face.

“There’s a lot of intersectionality in there. So trans people with color face a multitude of problems that just arise from being a person of color. Before you get into any of the trans issues, deal with it. And then when you add the transgender component, there are problems with their health care, there are problems with things like housing, problems with moving into lower-income homes. “

Applying for lower-income housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can be a daunting process for trans people after the transition, Millard-Bethea said, as applications must be completed with the applicant’s name and gender, assigned to them at birth.

“HUD rules are very old rules, they can’t really change and so a lot of our trans people we work with to get into living already have their new identities and new names. It’s almost a little traumatizing or offensive to sit down with someone and have to trace it all back because HUD only recognizes male or female, ”she said.

Education and resources

SAGE operates two LGBTQ-friendly residential projects in New York City, similar to the LGBT network’s new Bay Shore project: the Stonewall House in Fort Green and the Crotona Senior Residences.

Millard-Bethea said such projects are typically proposed in urban areas that are “a little more open to projects like this and the services and needs of the LGBTQ community. In larger cities it is easier to implement such a concept, such as

The LGBT network’s 8,000 square meter LGBT community center in Bay Shore also offers “services and programs related to arts and culture, fitness, food and nutrition, health and wellness,” according to the tenant application.

Millard-Bethea said centers like the one in Bay Shore, as well as SAGE-administered communities in the city, educate surrounding communities about the LGBTQ population and provide physical and mental health resources to LGBTQ people in those areas.

“It brings some of the resources … into the community for people who may not be comfortable with their identities right now, to know that there is an open place for them,” she said.

“It really brings that knowledge into them [health care] also providers in the community. “

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