Calgary LGBTQ seniors may get new location to help age in community

The SHARP Foundation has been in discussion on a residence for a year

There's an estimated 15,000 seniors in the LGBTQ community in Alberta.

Calgary LGBTQ seniors are worried about discrimination and stigma from caregivers and other residents if they’re required to move into typical seniors homes, according to a new study from Mount Royal University.

That’s led the Executive Director of the SHARP Foundation to start discussing plans for a complex in the city where LGBTQ seniors and their allies would be welcomed.

“The key is that we’re not looking at necessarily a care centre, but just a residence where people can feel safe in who they are and be respected for that,” said Executive Director Floyd Visser. 

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“The idea is that it would be in a community where it’s intergenerational. Like it’s not strictly a seniors community, it’s not an aging community, but it’s a really good mix of ages and incomes.”

The SHARP Foundation is a Calgary-based non-profit focused on housing, healthcare, and support to those living with HIV or at the highest risk of contracting HIV.

Discussions for Calgary LGBTQ seniors residence ongoing: Visser

Visser says they’ve been discussing a complex for about a year. They’re chatting with a developer on exactly what the residence would look like. Visser adds an apartment building is what’s being proposed and affordability is key.

Floyd Visser, SHARP Foundation. CONTRIBUTED

Among the ideas floating around is students studying social work and rehabilitation could live in the same complex and develop programming with seniors. Visser said a support network is crucial for a potential complex, because Calgary LGBTQ seniors often don’t have the natural supports of others.

“If you came out back in the 80s or 90s your family would just have nothing to do with you and so that really destroyed both natural sorts of relationships,” said Visser.

“And then of course we’re looking at a large number of people who are aging in the LGBTQ community who don’t have children and so they don’t have the same natural supports as others in the community might have and they’re going to need a place and they’re going to need a place where they’re accepted.”

Visser estimates there are 15,000 seniors in the LGBTQ community in Alberta. 

Preference for LGBTQ housing: Study

The MRU study included a survey of 117 people aged 50 years or older, or people under 50 who were considering their housing needs as they age.

It found 58 per cent of respondents would most prefer seniors housing that is LGBTQ focused but inclusive of allies. Another 16 per cent preferred LGBTQ exclusive housing.

The study was backed by The SHARP Foundation, Mount Royal University and various LGBTQ organizations in the province in order to determine the housing needs of aging members of the LGBTQ community in Calgary and surrounding areas.

The full findings of the study can be read below.

Findings – Aging in the LGBT Community by Darren Krause on Scribd

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