Lesbian and gay seniors face discrimination while searching for housing in adult communities and senior assisted living facilities in New Jersey according to a new study. “Opening Doors: An Investigation of Barriers to Senior Housing for Same-Sex Couples,” found that in 40% of tested cases LGBT persons say they were treated less favorably than their heterosexual peers in senior living accommodations.
The study by the Equal Rights Center in partnership with Garden State Equality was limited to discrimination agaist older lesbian, gay, bisexual people as identified by being in a same-sex relationship. However, GSE said it is important to note that discrimination against older transgender people is also a widespread and another serious problem.
“For the first time, LGBT seniors who have lived out and open lives since the early 1970s, are making difficult decisions about leaving their homes and moving into adult communities and assisted living facilities,” said John Mikytuck, Garden State Equality Interim Executive Director. “This report raises serious concerns about the treatment of LGBT seniors while searching for appropriate housing.” As the U.S. population ages, access to senior housing, such as retirement communities and assisted living facilities becomes increasingly critical. This study says that LGBT individuals, especially same-sex and couples are not being treated equally.
The study found that seniors in same-sex relationships are generally not afforded the same acceptance, benefits, protections and services as seniors in opposite-sex relationships. The study shows a lack of a level playing field that has real and lasting effects on financial security, particularly in retirement years. Same-sex couples may be denied housing in a particular community based on their sexual orientation, and in a worst case scenario, some may be forced to separate from their partners in order to obtain appropriate housing or receive proper care.
“New Jersey provides protections against housing discrimination for LGBT people,” said Mikytuck. “We must work to ensure that our laws are enforced and LGBT seniors are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, no matter where they choose to live.”