GLEH is a pioneer in the development of affordable housing for low-income LGBT seniors and operates the 104-unit Triangle Square in Hollywood, the nation’s first affordable housing development of private, individual apartments for LGBT elders. The organization is also collaborating with AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc., on its newest affordable housing development in Hollywood, The Argyle. A portion of The Argyle’s 39-units, which will open this spring, will be occupied by LGBT seniors.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the world’s largest provider of programs and services for LGBT people, operates a seniors services program led by gerontologist Kathleen Sullivan that serves more than 1,400 seniors each month. This is the Center’s fastest growing program with services that include bilingual (English and Spanish) case management, health and wellness activities, benefits counseling, special events, support groups and enrichment classes.
“We founded GLEH to address the tremendous, unmet demand for affordable housing for low-income LGBT seniors,” said Ara Babaian, president of the GLEH board of directors. “And we’re proud that our example has been followed in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and soon Chicago. Developing more affordable housing units while continuing to provide high-quality services for our residents has always been our top priority, and we can do that even better, faster and more efficiently by partnering with the Center and its fantastic Senior Services program.”
The merger of GLEH as a program of the Center will result in significant administrative efficiencies and financial savings by eliminating infrastructure redundancies. GLEH staff will join the Center’s Senior Services team (the organization’s executive director position is vacant), and several members of GLEH’s board will join the Center’s board.
“We have long admired the pioneering work of GLEH and are very excited to partner with the organization to better achieve our common goal of caring for the growing number of LGBT seniors,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Board of Directors Co-Chairs Dr. Marki Knox and David Bailey. “Together we’ll be so much stronger.”
An estimated two million Americans 50 or older identify as LGBT and that number is expected to double by 2030, according to the Institute for Multigenerational Health at the University of Washington. An estimated 65,000 LGBT seniors (65 and older) live in Los Angeles and 68 percent of them live alone. One of the factors contributing to the demand for affordable housing is that LGBT seniors are four times less likely to have children and grandchildren to support them and twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to live alone, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
More than 70 percent of GLEH’s residents are living at or near poverty level and struggle to cover expenses for housing, food and medication. Many clients of the Center’s Senior Services program—who include GLEH residents—also are struggling to meet basic needs. Nineteen percent of those clients live on less than $1,000 each month and 34 percent live on between $1,000-1,999 each month. Forty percent report being uncertain as to whether they will have enough money for food from month to month.
“The need for affordable housing and services for LGBT seniors has never been greater,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, “and by joining forces with GLEH, we’ll help even more seniors live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. All of us at the Center are excited to build on GLEH’s legacy of groundbreaking achievements.”