The Full Story
The number of calls and emails we get every day from LGBT community members asking about 55 Laguna has more than doubled since Tuesday’s front page Chronicle story. (“LGBT senior housing: Scarcity clouds vision.”) They know just how challenging it is today for everyone to secure any type of affordable housing in this city. Their determination will make 55 Laguna the safe and welcoming community we’ve all worked so hard to achieve.
The facts are these: the housing crisis in San Francisco is enormous and growing. The massive demographic changes it has caused are keenly felt and deeply feared by LGBT seniors. Supporting LGBT seniors, helping find housing solutions–keeping our community intact—is what we do every day and have been doing for over 15 years. Last year Openhouse served more than 1,500 members of our community — almost triple the number we served five years ago. Those numbers will continue to grow—and will include all of us at some point along the way.
This week’s Chronicle tells only part of the story. In addition to 119 units of affordable housing, 55 Laguna includes a new home for Openhouse to continue the explosive growth we’ve experienced. These new facilities—open to LGBT older adults across the city—include a service and information center; a training center for volunteers; a drop-in lounge and designated spaces for art, technology, exercise and brain fitness.
The long planned facility at 55 Laguna Street is a testament to the compassion and generosity of San Francisco’s LGBT community. It’s also an example of the tireless work of hundreds of community leaders, elected officials, and city agencies that cross three administrations. Building affordable housing is a complex process and thanks to you and our incredible partners at Mercy Housing California—we are making it happen.
Like every other provider of housing, Openhouse must and should follow fair housing laws. But the lottery system is not required by fair housing laws and it is a relatively new mechanism the city has chosen for all projects and all communities. Today’s reality is that LGBT residents at 55 Laguna will go through a lottery process, along with all other applicants.
Does that mean it is time to fold our tent and call it a day? Of course not. Last year, I called for a dialogue about whether the San Francisco affordable housing lottery system is indeed a fair way to distribute such an important and scarce resource [Kilbourn, S. “Winning the Housing Lottery: It Doesn’t Add Up.” San Francisco Bay Times. December 20, 2014].
In response to the widespread use of the lottery system and the growing housing crisis in San Francisco, Openhouse has been organizing the community and providing “how to” seminars to prepare LGBT older adults to gain access to all-too-scare affordable housing—whether that be at 55 Laguna or other locations. We’ve been implementing an outreach plan to reach as many LGBT seniors as possible—just like other communities must do in this incredibly competitive environment.
The article states “there is nothing we can do.” That is simply not true. You can do something. Tell all the LGBT older adults you know to look closely at their housing and financial situation. Do they want to be part of this welcoming community? Are they eligible to participate in this housing lottery? Tell them to contact Openhouse today.
It is time to take a look at this lottery policy, and some of the ideas from Supervisor Wiener and others to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and that we succeed in our effort to build affordable, safe housing for LGBT seniors. I look forward to that discussion.
The support of our long time donors, volunteers, and thousands of program participants continues to empower a once invisible community and to substantiate Openhouse as an integral and permanent component of the expansive network of housing and services for seniors in San Francisco. 55 Laguna is a critical addition to that network and our work with housing providers, service agencies, senior centers and city agencies across the city to ensure LGBT older adults feel safe and welcome everywhere.
Thank you for supporting Openhouse and LGBT older adults!
Construction at 55 Laguna HAS BEGUN!
It seems like the whole city is one big construction site these days, doesn’t it? Well keep an eye out for that familiar but mysterious scaffolding that goes around yet another building under renovation, as construction gets underway at 55 Laguna!
Last month we started the renovation of Richardson Hall-the first of a two building campus that includes affordable senior housing and a new home for Openhouse. From this new hub we will offer expanded services, new programs and engaging activities to more LGBT older adults from across the city.
Jointly developed by Openhouse and Mercy Housing California, the senior housing at 55 Laguna (and later 95 Laguna!) will include 119 apartments in what will be the city’s first and the country’s largest, affordable housing community specifically welcoming to LGBT seniors.
With new services and programs, Openhouse will welcome 1,500 community members this year-double the number of people we served just two years ago. Over the next decade, more than 30,000 LGBT people in San Francisco will be of an age to ask how Openhouse might welcome them too.
Our new campus ensures that we will always have a place to find community no matter where we may live.
For more information, updates on construction, pictures and more, visit the 55 Laguna Info page or give us a call. And be sure to check out the San Francisco Bay Times and the Bay Area Reporter for information about Openhouse, 55 Laguna, and our Spring Fling on April 26!
With many thanks,
FAST Study: Fitness, Aging & Stress
Remaining physically active may help to reduce the mental and physical health risks of caregiving, however, for those who are caregiving, remaining active can be especially challenging. The goal of the FAST Study is to support caregivers in their desire to become more physically active and explore whether helping caregivers to increase the amount of physical activity they do in their daily lives may improve their physical health and psychological well-being. Participants in this 6-month exercise study will receive weekly or monthly phone calls from a motivational coach as they begin and sustain an exercise routine, personalized for their level of fitness. Participants are also provided a 6-month gym membership to YMCA or other local gym and up to $300 for their time. All participants also receive a free Fitbit at the end of the study.
The UCSF FAST STUDY is seeking adults between the ages of 50-75 who provide at least 10 hours of unpaid care to a spouse/partner of member of family of choice with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Potential participants should have an interest in becoming more physically active. Every caregiver in the study will be asked to attend two health assessments at UCSF Parnassus Hospital in San Francisco and complete study questionnaires. They will also provide each participant with a free Fitbit Activity Tracker at the completion of the 6-month study to encourage them to sustain their exercise habits even after the study is complete.
Please contact Samantha at 415-476-3818 for more information or visit their website at http://faststudy.ucsf.edu. Call today!
A New Bi-Weekly Column
Dr. Marcy Adelman, Openhouse Co-Founder and Board Member oversees the Bay Times ‘Aging in Community’ column. With articles by Dr. Marcy Adelman and Other Esteemed Contributors
SFBayTimes: Aging In Community
Gray Matters: The 2014 Fall Newsletter
Openhouse’ 2014 Gray Matters newsletter is now just a click away! Enjoy lively and engaging interviews with Openhouse community members, update yourself on what we’re up to, see your name among our list of donors, and see how you can become involved.
Case Management at Openhouse
The Openhouse case management program offers a comprehensive look at the needs of LGBT older adults, adults with disabilities, and/or caregivers to ensure high-quality holistic care, coordination of services, and follow-through, while maintaining the dignity of each individual and addressing his/her unique needs.
Have you been discharged from the hospital and need in-home support? Experiencing a life transition and feeling overwhelmed about what to do next? Are you struggling with a challenging situation and don’t know where to turn to for help? You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Contact Openhouse’s case management program where you’ll receive compassionate support and expert care navigation and coordination services. Click here to read more about case management services at Openhouse.
ADRC at Openhouse
Openhouse is thrilled to be the new Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) for LGBT Seniors across the city! The Openhouse ADRC is a hub where you can go to find answers about housing, public assistance, benefits, health care and more. The ADRC office is located on the 4th floor of the LGBT Community Center. Stop by to meet Openhouse’s newest team member, Manuel Martinez. Manuel is our ADRC Information and Assistance Specialist. He will assist community members by connecting them with a variety of programs and services.
Manuel has worked in the nonprofit community in San Francisco for the last 3 years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer science and found a passion in the nonprofit sector through helping seniors and adults with disabilities in both English and Spanish.
Manuel has also been deeply involved with the LGBT and Latino Partnerships in the city to better connect service providers to additional resources that may help the communities they serve. In his new role at Openhouse, he is looking forward to continuing his work with the LGBT community as well and as continuing to share his knowledge with all seniors and adults with disabilities in the neighborhood. For information and assistance on a range of issues, call Manuel at (415) 347-8509.
Every month Openhouse offers a wide range of programs and activities for LGBT seniors. These programs include exercise classes, men’s and women’s support groups, grief counseling, health workshops, housing assistance and more. We have something for everyone. Openhouse also offers a Friendly Visitor program to provide conversation and companionship to LGBT older adults in San Francisco. To receive our monthly newsletter or to get more information about our programs, please give us a call at (415) 296-8995 or send us an email.
Long-stalled S.F. housing project for LGBT seniors on track
“The city gets 440 units of much-needed housing, including apartments aimed at the LGBT seniors of the nearby Castro district but open to anyone meeting the project’s age and income requirements. The neighbors get a small park and a community garden that will be maintained by the developer, as well as a new development where aging, vacant, graffiti-tagged buildings once stood… For the people and groups who have been pushing the project for years, the finish line finally is in sight.” Read More…
Know Your Rights and Claim Your Money: The Video
Openhouse Curriculum Available
We are proud to announce the release of our highly anticipated LGBT Cultural Humility Curriculum for Senior Service Providers, From Isolation to Inclusion: Reaching and Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Seniors. The cost to purchase the curriculum is $50 for individuals and $150 for agencies or organizations. Click here to learn more about the curriculum or to order yours today!
SF Planning Commission Approves City’s First LGBT-Welcoming Senior Housing
The City’s first and the country’s largest affordable housing specifically welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors to be developed by Openhouse and Mercy Housing California was approved unanimously Thursday by the San Francisco Planning Commission. The development includes 110 apartments for low-income seniors, Openhouse service offices and an activity center for residents and LGBT seniors from across the City. Over 25,000 LGBT seniors live in San Francisco alone, many of whom do not access senior services and housing for fear of rejection and compromised care. Read More…