It’s a fact that Americans are living longer and the population is becoming more diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 40 million Americans over the age of 65, and that number is expected to double over the next couple of decades.
It’s also a fact that by 2050, 40 percent of Americans over 65 will be Black, Latino, Asian American, American Indian, or Alaska Native and many will have challenges establishing economic security, accessing healthcare, or rebuilding contact with their families. While this outlook is scary enough, most at risk of falling below the poverty line and being castigated to the margins of society are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors of color.
According to a 2011 national study on LGBT older adults, LGBT seniors of color face significant mental and physical health disparities, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS. They are also more likelt to feel isolated from friends and family, more inclined to consider committing, and more likely to face employment and housing discrimination.
And that’s at the national level. Statistically, these realities are exacerbated when considered against the rising cost of living in large metropolitan cities or the lack of resources in rural communities. These disparities can also contribute to higher instances of death, institutionalization, and abandonment.
To address these and other issues impacting LGBT seniors of color in New York, the New York Community Trust (NYCT) annually grants hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city’s aging community, and those working on their behalf, to ensure that this vulnerable population has access to food, shelter and necessary medical attention.
The trust has four funding categories—Children, Youth, and Families; Community Development and the Environment; Arts, Education, and Human Justice; Health and People with Special Needs. Through these, it funds numerous programs that both directly and indirectly address the concerns of LGBT elders and LGBT elders of color.
This year alone, the Trust has a renewed $45,000 commitment to the Griot Circle, a Brooklyn-based advocacy organization for LGBT elders of color, a $100,000 commitment to Citymeals-on-Wheels, to continue delivering emergency food to poor and elderly New Yorkers, a $150,000 grant to Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, to improve the training of home health aids, and a $70,000 to the ACLU Federation to help them inform the older LGBT community about changes to their legal rights.