Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg set aside between $3 million and $5 million in his budget to fund 10 'innovative senior centers'--including one for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered New Yorkers.
Advocates estimate there are more than 100,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered New Yorkers over 65 living in the five boroughs — and they are twice as likely to be living alone and much more likely to be childless and disconnected from their families.
"Many LGBT seniors feel like they have to go back into the closet as they age," said commissioner of the city's Department for the Aging, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli. "Every senior center is a place where people feel welcomed. It's difficult to feel that way when you can't be who you are. This center will be like every other center except LGBT people will be welcomed and accepted for who they are."
Many LGBT seniors feel they need to hide to avoid being mistreated by home care attendants or at nursing homes, executive director Michael Adams of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (or SAGE) said.
LGBT advocates in the city say they’ve been working to open such a place for years. It’s expected to become a reality in January 2012 and will be located somewhere in Manhattan.
More details on all 10 innovative senior centers will be announced by the Department for the Aging this fall.