Providing Complete Care For LGBTQ+ People

Published on: 22 June 2022
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LGBT+ elders are more likely to be estranged from their biological families, and are twice as likely to live alone. 51% of older LGBTQ+ individuals are very or extremely concerned about having enough money to live on. SAGE is the largest and oldest organization for aging adults in the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+ individuals are as diverse as they are widespread across the United States. Yet members of the LGBTQ+ community face far more professional and personal barriers due to their sexual orientation and gender identity than the general U.S. population. On just the job front, 41% of gay and lesbian adults face some form of hostility or harassment. On housing instability, LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their cisgender and straight peers. And for the millions of LGBTQ+ people ages 55 and older, the biggest challenges they face include poverty, health disparities, and social isolation. 

Recognizing the host of systemic issues that LGBTQ+ individuals disproportionately face, various organizations have disaggregated the population to support unique, age-specific issues. As part of Capital One’s spotlight on nonprofits and organizations that provide critical services to historically underserved and marginalized communities, we’re highlighting two organizations sparking change across the life cycle of an LGBTQ+ individual. In particular, we’re highlighting Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) in Washington, D.C. that supports young adults through pathways to sustainable independence and housing, and SAGE in New York City that provides wraparound services to address housing and financial wellness for elders.

Up to 40% of the 4.2 million youth in America experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, according to the National Network for Youth. Through an empowerment lens, SMYAL has created a comprehensive approach to address LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness housing and mental health, two issues that young LGBTQ+ adults are most likely to face in SMYAL’s geographic footprint of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. 

Through its programs, SMYAL carves out a pathway for LGBTQ+ youth to be on the road toward sustainable independence.

“When a young person enters our program, we want to get them to a place where they can use the skills in real life once they graduate from the program,“ says Hancie Stokes, Communications Manager at SMYAL. “For some sites, our foundation of support may look like a case manager helping a trans youth obtain vital documents like a Social Security Number or opening a bank account. Support could also look like helping LGBTQ+ young adults fill out resumes, or getting connected to GED courses or college programs.” 

One individual that stuck out in Stokes’ mind is a young trans woman who was a resident in SMYAL’s housing program for two years. She had struggled to find housing as some shelters that claimed to be trans affirming turned out to not be safe spaces. Because she had a service dog, other housing programs made it difficult to provide placement. Through SMYAL, she joined the Youth Housing Program where she “graduated” from the program’s three-tiered progress system toward sustainable independence. She also became connected with artists that work with the LGBTQ+ community to tell their stories and soon began an internship with a local health nonprofit and is now thriving in a mentoring job.

“You can see their confidence grow,” says Stokes, explaining that Capital One’s partnership with SMYAL layers onto the skills that young people achieve through the program. “The federal government funds the basics of our housing program, but it’s Capital One’s funding that takes the young people beyond the bare minimum. Those funds cover things like supplies and groceries, as well as transportation stipends so our LGBTQ+ youth can travel to and from school and work. This is truly an investment in young people.” 

Additionally, to support LGBTQ+ youth on their path to sustainable independence, the D.C.-Area chapter of Capital One’s Out Front Business Resource Group (BRG) and the Capital One Center recognized SMYAL as the nonprofit of choice for Pride Month. The Out Front BRG made a contribution, while the Capital One Center is donating a percentage of their sales from The Perch, Wren, The Watermark Hotel and Starr Hill Biergarten throughout June.

“Capital One ensures its philanthropic and business initiatives provide holistic support to communities we serve, and SMYAL’s approach to services for LGBTQ+ youth is just as comprehensive,” says Dane Moist, Manager of Community Impact & Investment at Capital One. “SMYAL is essential in mitigating the disparity we see in our region by creating spaces and opportunities for LGBTQ+ youth to live, build supportive relationships, and thrive.”

Research shows that LGBTQ+ young people are less likely to be married and less likely to intend to have children, and that LGBTQ+ elders are more likely to be estranged from their biological families, and are twice as likely to live alone. Furthermore, 51% of older LGBTQ+ individuals are very or extremely concerned about having enough money to live on, as compared to 36% of older non-LGBTQ+ people. Enter SAGE, the largest and oldest organization for aging adults in the LGBTQ+ community, providing services, advocacy, and a nurturing environment during their sunset years. 

“A lot of our folks have experienced a lifetime of discrimination from accessing financial resources, employment, and housing which impacts their current financial status,” says David Vincent, Chief Program Officer at SAGE. “Even with fewer opportunities to build wealth throughout their lives, our programs aim to change the way they approach financial wellness.” 

One of the many programs that SAGE has incorporated into its curriculum is the Capital One-funded Ready, Set, Bank program, which provides older adults with the tools and confidence to start banking online. Vincent mentioned that the Ready, Set, Bank program helps people like Patti, a client who uses they/their pronouns, to feel more comfortable with digital banking and explore best practices for accessing their bank accounts on verified websites. The program then serves as a stepping stone of sorts for broader conversations on financial wellness. 

“So many financial training programs are generic, but the Ready, Set, Bank program provides a culturally appropriate lens for SAGE to discuss the guilt and shame associated with not saving enough money, not because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t have the same opportunity as their peers,” says Vincent.  

“Coming out today isn’t easy due to various challenges and discrimination,” adds Vincent. “But if we could support elders who paved the path for so many by improving their overall financial wellness, then it can become easier for them to live their fullest lives in strength and resilience.”

Many hurdles remain for the LGBTQ+ community, but Capital One is continuing to work towards equity and provide more lasting impact through our partnerships. In 2022, we are additionally providing a separate grant for SAGE to increase areas of their community-building work within two New York City-based affordable housing buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The community-building program will include outreach and engagement activities for building residents to combat isolation and depression.

Capital One is proud to continue to do our part in standing for what we believe in, fighting for what we know is right, and supporting and elevating the LGBTQ+ community. Together we listen. And learn. And grow. Most importantly, together we rise. 

Source: CapitalOne newsroom

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