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New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Partners with AARP New York and Members of the LGBTQ Community to Launch Advisory Council to Address Issues for Older LGBTQ New Yorkers

Pride Month a Reminder of the Unique Challenges Facing Older LGBTQ Adults and Provides Opportunity to Develop a Strategic Plan to Improve Access to Services for Them, Improve Cultural Competency Among

June 29, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) today announced the creation of an Advisory Council to address issues among older LGBTQ adults in New York. The Advisory Council will include AARP New York, the Association on Aging in NYS, and key stakeholders representing the LGBTQ community, who will work to address identified gaps and barriers in services.

The Advisory Council will assist NYSOFA, and its network of aging service professionals across the state, improve their cultural competency when working with older LGBTQ individuals. This work will increase the participation of LGBTQ individuals on local aging advisory councils and lead to the development of training and outreach strategies to increase access to services. It will also encourage the sharing of best practices in outreach and service provision and address identified barriers to aging network services by including LGBTQ outreach, access, and education strategies into future state and county plans.

Deliberations of the Council will build upon the tremendous accomplishments made in New York State to increase access by LGBTQ older adults to community-based services and supports designed to help them age in place. New York has a solid, nationally recognized foundation which consists of senior centers and services, housing, and tools used by NYSOFA and its partners that will help improve their ability to serve LGBTQ older adults. This also includes the recent completion of state-supported LGBT/age-friendly affordable housing in downtown Bay Shore and sites in New York City.

NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, “Pride Month is the perfect time to launch this innovative public-private partnership to improve our network’s ability to better serve older LGBTQ individuals and their families. By engaging the LGBTQ network and their expertise and experience, we can better understand and prepare our network to serve this community more effectively and equitably.”

AANYS Executive Director Becky Preve said, “The Aging network in NYS is thrilled to participate in the LGBTQ advisory council, ensuring that our programs and services are sensitive to and inclusive of the LGBTQ community. Pride month is a wonderful time to launch this important initiative and highlights our commitment to older New Yorkers and their families.”

AARP NY CEO Beth Finkel said, “The LGBT community has long faced an uphill climb on an uneven playing field, as AARP New York documented in our report Disrupting Disparities: Solutions for LGBTQ New Yorkers Age 50+.” AARP applauds Acting Director Greg Olsen and the State Office for the Aging for taking proactive steps to help disrupt these disparities and level the field.”

SAGE CEO Michael Adams said, “Establishing this working group with NYSOFA is essential to make sure LGBT elders have their voices heard and can access the support they need and deserve. During Pride Month and throughout the year, SAGE’s advocacy on behalf of LGBT older people is not a solo effort. Collaborative efforts with partners and allies help us reach our shared goal that every LGBT elder in every community across the state has access to welcoming, culturally competent care.”

Gender Equality New York, Inc (GENY) Board Chair & Executive Director Juli Grey-Owens said, “As an organization that advocates for transgender, nonbinary and intersex New Yorkers, we are extremely pleased that the New York State Office for the Aging has taken this important step in creating an Advisory Council to assist in creating cultural competency and improving community participation. Gender-expansive people are the least understood members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the most discriminated against. Transphobia and the lack of cultural competency in agencies dealing with our community results in members disengaging in services and care. The importance of the formation of the Advisory Council cannot be overstated.”

LGBT Network President/CEO David Kilmnick said“The new LGBT senior affordable housing development is a very important project and a turning point for our region’s LGBT seniors. We often hear that our elders are left out, discriminated against, and their relationships and lives go unrecognized and are discounted. This is all about our LGBT elders being able to age gracefully without fear of discrimination and show how their lives are valued and celebrated. I look forward to working together with the LGBTQ advisory council members as we need to take care of our elder generation who fought so hard for the rights we all have today.”

Overview of NYSOFA’s work to serve older New Yorkers who are LGBTQ

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. The last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. The “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events in major cities across the nation. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants worldwide. In addition, memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

NYSOFA is committed to fostering the inclusion of LGBTQ older adults in person-centered programs and services that promote health and wellness. As a part of these efforts, NYSOFA is developing a strategic work plan that seeks to enhance the ability of New York State to serve LGBTQ older adults. This plan was drafted in coordination with the Association on Aging in NYS, AARP, and SAGE.

The plan’s end goal is to bring together stakeholders to enhance the cultural competency of the network so that LGBTQ older adults are best served.

NYSOFA’s strategic plan includes:

a) establishing a NYSOFA standing committee on LGBTQ Aging to identify challenges and barriers to service access and ways to mitigate them,

b) share best practices and develop expert recommendations to improve the quality of life of the 50+ LGBTQ older adults,

c) work to increase the involvement of racially diverse LGBTQ people representing stakeholder groups on the advisory councils and long-term care councils that local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are required to organize,

d) recommend requiring inclusion into NYSOFA’s four-year plan and AAA local planning efforts being undertaken to assist LGBTQ older adults, and doing quarterly stakeholder meetings to identify issues and best practices, and;

e) conduct regular assessments of needs of older LGBTQ adults that can be accomplished through surveys, focus groups, and collected as part of the mandatory community assessments which are required for the development of local four-year plans.

NYSOFA had already incorporated into its Comprehensive Assessment for Aging Network Community (COMPASS) questions to identify those needs. This assessment tool is NYSOFA’s primary screening instrument. Answers to questions assist in developing client-centered planning to provide any one of the seven supportive services, including case management, home health aides, adult day care services, and home-delivered meals.

The new LGBTQ senior affordable housing development in Bay Shore is an important project and turning point for Long Island LGBTQ older adults. This project, which the LGBTQ Network is leading, consists of 66 affordable apartments located within a walkable distance – one block – from Bay Shore’s Main Street retail shops, restaurants, and medical services. The property will feature Long Island’s first dedicated LGBT Senior Center, an 8,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that will provide a full range of support, advocacy, and case management services and programs.

Work is also underway by SAGE to complete the Crotona Senior Residences, which will be a brand-new, LGBTQ-welcoming, affordable senior housing development in the Bronx. The building will have an on-site SAGE Center to provide health and cultural programs, meal service, and a computer lab.

This project will join the Stonewall House, which is just opening its doors in addressing the housing needs of LGBTQ older adults. The Stonewall House is the first affordable, LGBTQ-friendly senior Housing Development in the nation. It is located in the Fort Green, Brooklyn neighborhood; it will be one of the most significant developments of its kind in the country. Plus, there will also be a 6,800 square foot community center offering programs and services for LGBTQ older adults and their allies.

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