When it comes to funding, Pride Center CEO Robert Boo said his organization doesn’t need government assistance – yet.
But that could change in the future and Boo is worried that if a move by the Trump administration, to not count LGBT individuals as part of the National Survey of Older Americans Act, isn’t reversed, his organization could lose out on important funds.
In particular, Boo said government funding might be an important part of the affordable housing development Pride Center wants to build on its campus in Wilton Manors. “It’s something that could hurt us in the future,” Boo said.
The National Survey of Older Americans Act is used to help the Department of Health and Human Services decide how it will allocate federal funding to organizations that work with seniors. After years of advocacy by LGBT groups, the questions were added in 2014.
SAGE [Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders] has criticized the decision to “erase” LGBT seniors. In response, SAGE has started a letter writing campaign to help persuade officials to place LGBT seniors back into the survey.
So far, Adams estimates about 7,600 people have participated in SAGE’s campaign – “Trump to LGBT Elders: DROP DEAD.” According to SAGE, a loss in funding would impact LGBT seniors centers, home-delivered meals, family caregiver support, transportation, and other important support mechanisms.
“It’s not just technical data. It determines how billions of dollars in elder services are distributed every year. Eliminating [LGBT seniors] is just outrageous,” said Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE. “If they’re not asking questions [about LGBT seniors], then they’re not going to be able to address their needs. Clearly, the trump administration does not care about their needs.”
That was the attitude, said Adams, that the Trump administration has taken from day one.
“On his very first day of his presidency, they were erasing LGBT pages from the White House website. Transgender student [bathroom rights] came right after that. This is one very egregious step. In some ways, the most egregious because it is denying the very existence of LGBT seniors. It’s truly pernicious.”
But Adams said he is hopeful Congress will take action and get the questions reinstated. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 U.S. Senators, including Republican Susan Collins, urged the questions be put back in.
To sign the SAGE letter, visit Actionnetwork.org/letters/trump-administration-erasing-lgbt-elders
To view the letter from the 18 U.S. Senators, visit Aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Letter%20to%20HHS%20-%20Surveys%20(4.27.17).pdf