NCRC Member Profile: SAGE

Tell us about your organization’s mission/focus area.
SAGE is a national leader in addressing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) aging. In partnership with its constituents and allies, SAGE works to achieve a high quality of life for LGBTQ+ older people, supports and advocates for their rights, fosters a greater understanding of aging in all communities, and promotes positive images of LGBTQ+ life in later years.

Describe a current challenge in your community and how your organization is addressing this?
It’s estimated that by 2030, there will be approximately 7 million LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. who are 50 and older. SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative (NHI) was developed in 2015 in response to the urgent need for affordable housing for our communities, both locally and nationally. Due to legacies of discrimination, inequity in pay and employment protections, disparate poverty levels and health outcomes, and social and familial isolation, finding safe, affordable, and accessible housing is a struggle for LGBTQ+ older adults, particularly for BIPOC elders and transgender elders. We are working to create a continuum of housing interventions for LGBTQ+ older adults through cultural competency and housing development trainings to affordable housing and service providers; building LGBTQ+-affirming affordable senior residences; disseminating best practices and public education on aging in place and developing supportive communities; and providing technical assistance for service providers, community organizations, aging facilities, and housing advocates and developers across the country

What prompted you to join NCRC?
The intersections of race, class, abilities, and other intersecting identities are critical to uplifting the needs and building power for communities who have been left out of community development and planning processes. NCRC is a national leader in naming inequity and building community investment and power with this nuance and framework in mind, and NCRC’s leadership and community are a valuable resource in equitable housing and community development work. Connecting with mission-aligned national leaders is essential in movement building to fight for justice in our work.

How have you collaborated, or would you like to collaborate with other organizations to successfully achieve a goal?
Work towards accountable community building requires trust cultivation and power building with mission aligned groups, and it also requires working together across difference to identify and build shared mission. Uplifting the work of communities on the ground is essential, which is why strategic alliances and facilitating space for community leadership is a key part of movement-building and achieving strategic goals. Justice-based community development work not only benefits from key collaborations—it is essential.

Please share a success story or memorable moment from your work
Barbara Satin is an 85-year-old transgender elder activist, cofounder of LGBT Generations, faith leader at the National LGBTQ Task Force, and advocate in the creation and development of Spirit on Lake, a 46-unit LGBTQ+-affirming elder affordable housing residence in Minneapolis. Barbara opened the NHI’s inaugural 2019 LGBT Elder Housing Symposium with a heartfelt welcome. She sees her role in the movement to be one of Truth Teller. Reclaiming “old” as a respected and honored identity, Satin succinctly spoke to the purpose of our work, stating, “Home is not just about a structure and amenities, but the environment that surrounds that space, built on respect, understanding and love. LGBTQ+ older people have lived through challenging times and deserve a place they can thrive and not hide behind doors. Do your work, and somewhere in your mind, love them first.” These words are ones I continue to come back to. From an elder and a sacred movement mentor, Barbara’s message, “love them first,” are what guide my work and my heart in the fight for collective liberation.

Sydney Kopp-Richardson is the Director of the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative at SAGE

Photo of the ribbon-cutting event in 2019 at Stonewall House (New York’s first LGBT-affirming affordable senior residence) in Brooklyn courtesy of SAGE.

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