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LGBTQ+ older adults deserve safe, affirming and affordable housing

The four million LGBTQ+ older adults in the United States face unique challenges to successful aging. One of the challenges MiGen hears consistently from our communities is the need for safe, affordable and affirming housing. Our older adults are a diverse group with diverse wants and needs and live in every geographic region throughout Michigan. Some LGBTQ+ older adults are most interested in aging in place, some are more interested in aging in community and many LGBTQ+ older adults would like to age in LGBTQ+ affirming communities designed to meet their unique needs. 

Delivering housing solutions to meet these diverse needs calls for an integrated approach, similar to those championed for years by SAGE USA and their National LGBTQ+ Housing Initiative (NHI). Here at MiGen, we are dedicated to implementing a diverse, community-engaged portfolio of housing and supports such as:

  • Educating consumers on their housing rights, particularly in light of changes to the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) here in Michigan which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Training housing providers on working with, housing and serving LGBTQ+ older adults. This includes developers, long term care (LTC) and skilled nursing facilities, rental housing, Fair Housing organizations, aging care organizations, home ownership and retention programs, etc.
  • Advocating for legislative and other policy changes that impact our LGBTQ+ older adults and their ability to age successfully in safe, affirming and affordable housing.
  • Expanding our service offerings to meet the needs of our LGBTQ+ older adults whether that is in providing funding for needed home repair, providing social connection or working to identify affirming long term care. 
  • Expanding LGBTQ+ older adult housing options through building new housing, working with existing housing providers to make their spaces welcoming and affirming and exploring other models such as co-operative housing. 

Current Strategies to Assist LGBTQ+ Older Adults with Housing Related Needs

  • Providing LGBTQ+ Credentialing and cultural responsiveness training to existing housing and care providers across Michigan
  • Gathering existing affirming housing resources into a guide that will be available to the community free of charge
  • Advocating for policies that ensure LGBTQ+ elders can age successfully via the Hate Won’t Win Coalition and alongside our Governor via the Michigan LGBTQ+ Commission
  • Engaging in research, community building and exploring housing needs and models as a founding member of the HOMES Coalition
  • Providing funding for home modifications or other emergency needs to keep LGBTQ+ older adults housed. To access these resources via our Community Navigation program, fill out this form
  • Working with LGBTQ+ older adults and those who care for them to identify affirming housing, both independent and in care providing environments. If you need help finding affirming housing, please contact us
  • Engaging in a 24/7 feedback cycle with our communities. Contact us and let us know what your needs and priorities are; MiGen also keeps office hours Monday – Friday from 10am to 4pm at our senior center location in Ferndale. You never need an appointment to come by.  

Future Strategies to Assist LGBTQ+ Older Adults with Housing Related Needs

  • Expanding programming and opportunities to connect via monthly drop in potlucks at our Ferndale and Detroit senior center locations, as well as an annual townhall and shared meal where the community can connect with MiGen, hear more about ways we are working to serve and provide input, raise concerns, etc.
  • Utilizing community feedback to develop an LGBTQ+ older adult housing blueprint for MiGen that includes integrated, short, midterm and long term strategies to improve housing options and supports for LGBTQ+ older adults across Michigan
  • Seeking additional funding and support for home modification and repair, rental assistance and other services to support LGBTQ+ who want to remain in their homes
  • Partnering with Fair Housing organizations to educate consumers and housing providers on the rights of LGBTQ+ older adults
  • Working with existing housing providers to provide training and credentialing to convert existing housing units to affirming housing units; this could also include providing affirming services within these locations to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ older adults. By the end of 2025, our goal is to convert at least 10 affordable, moderate or mixed rate buildings to affirming buildings
  • Developing an affirming housing database for Michigan
  • Working with state, regional and local leaders to investigate ways to incentivize being an affirming housing provider
  • Pursuing the development of new housing units, as well as other models like co-operative housing.