Thanks to an “Innovative Senior Center” contract, the Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) will soon launch the nation’s first full-time center for elderly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents (LGBT) in New York City, scheduled to open in January.
The group was recently awarded the contract by the office of NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC Department for the Aging in a movement aimed at making New York a more livable city for its growing senior population.
SAGE applied for the contract in competition with multiple other local organizations. Out of those awarded with contracts, it was one of two centers catering toward “special populations,” with the other serving the visually impaired. The other six are already-established centers with plans to make innovative changes.
The city will use public and private funds to provide the grants to SAGE and the other organizations.
“The needs of seniors have evolved since centers were created 50 years ago and now is the time to re-envision the one-size-fits-all approach that has traditionally shaped many of our centers,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Although they don’t have a registered contract yet, SAGE has purchased a floor in the building they currently operate an LGBT community center in, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, says Catherine Thurston, the senior director of programs at SAGE.
And, despite existing LGBT presence, there’s a need for a community that serves older LGBT adults, she says. The space will offer a “comprehensive array of services and support” throughout all five boroughs.
“Older LGBT people will not go to their mainstream senior centers, as they can pose a variety of challenges,” Thurston told SHN. “We already know from studies that LGBT older adults are more likely to be living in isolation, and to be living without the benefit of adult children. These are people who are more at risk.”
While the numbers of the older LGBT community in NYC range all over the place, says Thurston, the new senior center has signed on for serving 130 meals every day, and for serving 300 people a day.
“[We’ll reach] a far greater number than that, because it’s not the same 300 people each day,” she added. “We’ll be able to serve thousands of LGBT people throughout the city.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace