Letter in Support of LGBTQ-Inclusive Senior Housing
On October 22, 2019, GLAD Staff Attorney Chris Erchull sent a letter to Mayor Walsh in support of LGBTQ-inclusive housing.
Marin J. Walsh, Mayor
Kelly Shay, Project Manager City of Boston
One City Hall Square, Suite 500 Boston, MA 02201
Re: Support for Pennrose – LGBTQ Senior Housing Proposal
Dear Mayor Walsh and Ms. Shay,
This letter is submitted on behalf of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). Thank you for the opportunity to voice support for the Pennrose – LGBTQ Senior Housing Proposal. Based in Boston, GLAD is New England’s premier LGBTQ legal advocacy organization. We know firsthand that the aging LGBTQ population in Boston currently has insufficient access to safe and affordable identity-affirming housing and culturally competent care.
As members of the LGBTQ community get older, we encounter a distinct set of challenges. We are less likely to be married and to have children. We are more likely to experience alienation from relatives. Our resilience in the face of a lifetime of discrimination is due in no small part to the strong communities we build as adults.
People choose to live in retirement communities for a number of reasons: it may no longer make financial or practical sense for some individuals to maintain an independent household, some seek the comfort of being surrounded by others with similar life experiences, and for others a retirement community is an escape from the stigma associated with age. While these considerations are not unique to LGBTQ people, we are in an especially vulnerable position. Too often, when we lose independence, we lose the ability to choose our community. As a result, we often find ourselves living among people who lack empathy for our life experiences or, worse, are hostile to us. We are left with two untenable choices: to endure discrimination or to go back into the closet.
These negative outcomes are not inevitable and, in fact, are entirely preventable. Inclusive housing developments, such as the Pennrose – LGBTQ Senior Housing Proposal, provide hope for many people who may otherwise suffer isolation and indignity as they age. For many LGBTQ Bostonians, there are presently no housing options available to them that ensure that they live safely among people who affirm and celebrate their identities and life experiences. We must not forego the opportunity to embrace an alternative for those who might otherwise be exposed to discrimination and harassment.
People from all walks of life experience challenges as they age. Access to safe housing should not be one of them. We owe it to the LGBTQ community to provide the opportunity to age with dignity.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments and for supporting this initiative.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
18 Tremont Street, Suite 950 Boston, MA 02108