The ‘fight was on’ at the recent Seattle Rainbow Housing Survey meeting

by MK Scott

On Tuesday, September 25, a group of over 150 LGBTQ seniors gathered at the new Generations Aging with Pride LGBTQ Senior Center located on the second level of the Broadway Market. The meeting was a reunion of sorts for many senior LGBTQ community members to once again address the need for LGBTQ senior housing and services. The need for LGBTQ senior housing has been a topic that has been discussed for many years but still has not yet been fulfilled. Generations Aging with Pride hosted the meeting and the evening featured appearances by Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, and Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold.

Longtime LGBTQ activist, Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, revealed the findings of her recent Seattle Rainbow Housing Survey in a report commissioned by the City of Seattle Office of Housing titled ‘Aging in Community: Addressing Inequities in LGBTQ Housing and Senior Services’ with the goals of examining the housing and service needs of LGBTQ older adults.

More than 500 surveys were returned, with 419 completed by LGBTQ diverse adults including those age 70 and over (30%), Woman (43.1%) and Trans/non-binary (17.8%).

Based on Fredriksen-Goldsen’s report there are inadequate services for LGBTQ seniors in Seattle/King County – services which would allow many LGBTQ seniors to remain in their homes and age in the community. The lack of affordable housing is one contributing factor that needs to be addressed. The report also noted that Seattle/King County is behind other major cities in addressing the needs of LGBTQ seniors for housing and services.

Other key findings in the report included:

o In Seattle/King County, 58% of renters aged 60+ were housing cost burdened compared to 87% of the LGBTQ older adult participants.

o In the general population, 13% of adults aged 65+ want to move compared to 39% of LGBTQ older adult participants.

o Those who moved within the past year experienced Homelessness (48.5%), Eviction (33.3%), and Foreclosure (15.5%) in recent years.

This one quotation that is included in the report sums it all up: ‘I remember the early days of AIDS here in Seattle, we were dying. No one would help us. Now we are old and dying. Still today, no one is here to help us.’

After the dissemination of the report, Fredriksen-Goldsen introduced a panel featuring Ruben Rivera-Jackman (GenPRIDE), Debbie Carlsen (LGBTQ Allyship), George Dicks (Geriatric Mental Health Practitioner, Harborview) and Marsha Botzer (Ingersoll Gender Center).

The most pressing issue is still about money. With Capitol Hill Housing owning a site at 14th Avenue and E. Union St. when will funding be available to them so the building can start?

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