Dignity House moves closer to becoming a reality

Dalhousie University grad student Alex Sangha’s vision of an affordable housing community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit seniors, and their allies, in Vancouver is becoming more concrete.

As reported in issue 2 of the Nav., Sangha is fundraising towards a feasibility study for the proposed LGBTT housing development. Since Aug. 31 he has managed to raise $37 thousand through private donations and grants through the VanCity Community Foundation and

from the B.C. Ideas competition. A large portion of the funds will be used to pay a consultant to study whether affordable LGBTT housing is financially feasible and where and how it should be built.

He recently assembled a 22-member committee from a host of supporters to provide critical community feedback. The Dignity House Advisory Committee (DHAC) includes highly skilled professionals such as a psychologist, a registered nurse, and a housing program manager. The first meeting of the DHAC is scheduled for late Jan.

“I feel great but it’s a community effort involving many people,” Sangha says. “It is smart to tap into this reservoir of talent and develop a culturally sensitive affordable housing project for LGBTT seniors.

Sangha, who founded Sher Vancouver, an organization for LGBTT South Asians and allies says that he is fortunate to have been involved with the LGBTT community in Vancouver for nearly 20 years. “My involvement in the community allowed me to meet a lot of people,” Sangha says. “Therefore, it was not surprising that when I needed letters of support from the community many people came forward because they personally have known me and or also of course because they support the Dignity House project in principle.”

He previously explained that LGBTT seniors are at a higher risk of social isolation than there their heterosexual counterparts and have acute needs, which are not met by the mainstream seniors care system. “The generation of people who are living in care homes today live in a heterosexual world. Even if there are only a few people who are homophobic in the care home they still can pose a risk to LGBTT seniors.”

Sangha concludes that once the feasibility study is complete, the Dignity House project will be presented to major private and public funders.

If you would like to join the Dignity House facebook group or donate to the Dignity House project visit <www.facebook.com/ groups/dignityhouse/>.

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