Thursday, April 21, 2011

Raphael Bostic on a layered housing problem

He gives an interview here:

There is a triple threat facing the elder African American LGBT population in the Detroit area. Even though small in number, this particular group of people encounters difficulties in finding retirement homes, safety, recognition and financial security. Dr. Raphael Bostic, the assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, attended an April 16 summit organized by KICK (an agency for LGBT African Americans) to address such concerns. Dr. Bostic spoke to BTL about discrimination and other issues faced by these elders.

What were the common concerns discussed at the KICK summit?
The elder LGBT population has significant challenges. They don't have children who can offer them help and support. If they are with a partner they often don't have access to their (partner's) pension funds, so they can become extremely vulnerable rather quickly. This is a really important conversation, and a lot of the gay and lesbian elder population has not been a (focus) of that conversation. Somehow they are a hidden population.
Elders in African American communities have difficulties, elders in general have difficulties and LGBT elders have difficulties, so this really overlays three types of groups. We don't really know much about the challenges that this group faces and they are forced to be invisible because sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes, so landlords can and do discriminate against these (people). So sometimes they have to go back into the closet. One of the things we are trying work on is how often these issues arise so we can talk about it in an informed way and hopefully get to a place where that kind of discrimination happens a lot less frequently.

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