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DC Govt Ops Press Release 2.2017

DC Govt Ops Press Release 2.2017

For Older Adults, Inc.~ Creating Safe, and

Affirming Housing Environments for LGBTQ Elders



Contact:  George Kerr (202-468-9135)



Mary’s House for Older Adults Testifies before the DC Committee on Government Operations

                Washington, DC – Feb. 28, 2017 – Last week the DC Committee on Government Operations held performance oversight hearings on several DC Government Offices and Commissions, which included the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual , Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Affairs.  The Committee heard testimony from three members of Mary’s House:  Dr. Imani Woody, Mr. George Kerr and Ms. Andrea Whittiker.

                Dr. Woody, Mary’s House President and CEO, addressed several issues of concern to the LBGTQ community.  She stressed the lack of data in the District is a major culprit contributing to the invisibility of LGBTQ elders.  It diminishes the ability to quantify the number of LGBTQ people needing services.  Furthermore, the methods of data collection and insufficient data analytics seem to push LGBTQ concerns to the back burner.  For example, the intake form used by DC’s Office on Aging addresses sexual orientation and gender identity, but some workers are reluctant to ask the question, and often citizens decline to answer when asked. 

                Dr. Woody made several sustainable recommendations to the committee:  (1) Funding wellness centers and events sponsored by the D.C. Office on Aging and the Department of Parks and Recreation and working with the Office of LGBTQ Affairs to attract, welcome and recognize the presence of LGBTQ elders; and (2) Increasing funding to the Office of LGBTQ Affairs to award contracts that provide more LGBTQ culturally competent training throughout the District. The staff of publically-owned housing facilities and other providers of elder services need this training.

                Mr. George Kerr, Chair of the Policy, Advocacy and Outreach Committee discussed similar issues but urged the committee to do more.  His theme of “simply waving a pride flag is not enough” was passionately delivered and impactful.  He also suggested more funding to LGBTQ programs and wellness centers and a comprehensive strategy for DC’s LGBTQ citizens to enjoy the benefits and services without isolation or discrimination.




Ms. Andrea Whittiker, a member of the Policy, Advocacy and Outreach Committee, highlighted unacceptable housing conditions in the District and reminded the committee to imagine living in such a state while being LGBTQ.  She went on to suggest the Oversight Committee develop culturally competent services across all DC government offices and agencies.

                The Director of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Ms. Sheila Alexander Reid, described the state of her office and supported her presentation with favorable statistics and improvements for the LGBTQ community.  Her plans are to “keep her foot on the pedal” to promote awareness of the challenges facing LGBTQ people and potential solutions. She promised to collaborate with all agencies affecting LGBTQ residents, including the Office of Aging, the Office on Housing, and other community organizations.

                About Mary’s House for Older Adults:  Based in Washington, DC, Mary’s House is committed to helping the community by developing housing and inclusive environments that comprehensively address affordability and access, and eliminate the constant worry of discrimination or even violence based upon the LGBTQ/SGL status of the individual. The vision of Mary's House is to create independent, communal housing for older adults that eliminates the intense isolation experienced due to aging, subtle and overt discrimination and intolerance based on one's sexual/gender identity or orientation. Its intent is to meet the emotional, relational, social and other similar needs of older adults through health and wellness programming, hydrotherapy coordination and referral of community and social services.  Mary's House will be a model and set the standard for future housing of its kind, that is, to create a living environment that celebrates and honors the “whole person” as they age, no matter who they are.  More information about Mary’s House is available at:

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