La Opinión: Donation for seniors includes those in the LGBTQ community

Click here to read the original Spanish article on La Opinión’s website.

Jewish foundation grants the money so that the elderly have a dignified old age

By Jacqueline Garcia

Julia is a 61-year-old transgender woman who is currently homeless. As an undocumented immigrant who does not speak English, she said that she faces many challenges in order to get ahead.

“Until about three years ago, I worked for the ministry of a Methodist church, which had an organization in charge of helping other people in distress,” Julia said.

They provided food and beds to sleep in. Julia received a monthly salary which allowed her to support herself financially.
But suddenly, the church stopped providing the service and therefore Julia lost her job.

“I am on the street and without hope. I have knocked on doors to be able to reestablish the organization, but so far I have not received help,” said Julia, who did not provide a last name.

She stressed that she finds it ironic that after helping so many people stay safe while they were homeless, she is now in the same condition.

She said that living on the street is very difficult. Someone recently vandalized the van where she sleeps. They burned the back where her pets were, four puppies and two birds. The birds were burned, the puppies were saved.

Julia said that if someone were to offer her the help she needs, she would get it immediately as living on the streets is not ideal for an aging transgender woman.

“Living homeless is what causes mental health problems. That is why there are people who use alcohol and drugs to deal with the situation,” said Julia. “There is a lot of talk about help, but it never reaches one.”

Caring for the most vulnerable

Julia could be one of many who could receive help following the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles’s $1 million donation to address senior poverty.

The five beneficiary organizations are Los Angeles LGBT Center, Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF), ONEgeneration, Partners in Care, and St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.

Nearly a third of older Los Angeles residents are estimated to live at or below the poverty line, according to data from the UC Berkeley Labor Center. That figure could get worse as California’s older population is expected to double in 20 years.

Marvin I. Schotland, president and CEO of The Foundation, said that in communities of color, that percentage is rising dramatically.
“The problem is compounded by the unaffordability of housing, health care, and other basic needs,” he stressed.

He added that, in his opinion, it is everyone’s responsibility to protect vulnerable older adults. Jewish tradition instructs that they must respect and safeguard older adults.

“I am proud that our grants this year address this pressing issue and provide the critical resources seniors need to stay healthy and housed, and age with ease,” Schotland said.

He highlighted that an alarming percentage of older adults in Los Angeles live in poverty and regularly have to choose between paying rent, food, or medicine.

“Elderly poverty in Los Angeles, already the highest in the nation, was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, sharp increases in housing costs, and the current runaway rate of inflation that has pushed many low-income older adults to the margins,” Schotland said.

The funding, part of the Foundation’s General Community Grants initiative, expands support for programs that provide assistance to low-income older adults through access to food, health care, housing, and supportive care to live independently. and grow old with dignity.

The donation is intended to support diverse and impacted communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

Julia said that she is willing to move somewhere where she doesn’t have to worry at night.

She said that she is diabetic and has to inject insulin, have daily monitoring, and order her medication. Something that is complicated for her when she does not have a stable place to live.

“Social neglect [for transgender people] is real. We are being left homeless in the last days of our lives,” said Julia.

Click here to read the original Spanish article on La Opinión’s website.