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SAGE awarded $900,000 grant

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

The federal government is awarding a $900,000 grant to establish a national resource center for services to LGBT citizens in their sunshine years.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging will be paid out over three years to Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. The organization, the nation’s largest and oldest serving the aging LGBT population, is better known as SAGE.

“The resource center will provide information, assistance and resources for both mainstream aging organizations and LGBT organizations and will provide assistance to LGBT individuals as they plan for future long-term care needs,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release.

In creating the resource center, SAGE will forge a partnership with 10 organizations with expertise in a wide range of areas – including LGBT aging, culture change and competency and program evaluation.

HHS said the grant money is intended to provide information to engage, empower and support aging providers, LGBT providers and “ensure that LGBT elders have the necessary and culturally appropriate supports and services to successfully age in place.”

“AoA frequently turns to national organizations to support our national network of community-based aging organizations in their efforts to work with specific minority populations that are traditionally underserved,” said Kathy Greenlee, the assistant HHS secretary who heads the Administration on Aging. “AoA has traditionally funded national organizations to provide technical assistance on providing supports and services to African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and Native Americans. LGBT older adults represent a community with unique needs that also must be addressed.”

SAGE will focus on establishing a wealth of resources on the Web, including an “Ask the Experts” service, Web-based training programs and social-networking tools.

SAGE executive director Michael Adams said the center “will make a big difference.”

The news from HHS followed an announcement in October 2009 that the administration would commit $250,000 a year for such a resource center.

A month later, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and SAGE released “Outing Age 2010: Public Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders,” which took an in-depth look at the challenges faced by millions of aging LGBT people in the United States.

“The needs of the oldest members of our community have been invisible and ignored by most institutions in our society,” said NGLTF executive director Rea Carey.

“Outing” found:

  • Research on LGBT people at the federal level is almost nonexistent.
  • Many elder housing and care programs have no mandate to provide competent services to LGBT people.
  • Many LGBT elders report widespread fear, discrimination and barriers to care.
  • Health disparities exist, with no federal commitment to addressing them.
  • The federal safety net that exists for heterosexual couples does not exist for aging same-sex couples, specifically the transfer of Social Security benefits to a partner.

Activists will put a spotlight on the last finding this spring, with Rock for Equality, a rock ’n’ roll rally scheduled for April 11 in Los Angeles and April 18 in Washington, D.C.

For more information about SAGE, visit www.sageusa.org.

For more information about the Administration on Aging, visit www.aoa.gov.

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