A unique assisted living facility will soon be accepting residents in Oberlin. Rainbow Steps caters to older LGBT adults. Experts say there is a need for places like it across the country.
In a report, SAGE, an advocacy group for LGBT elders, says estimates show 3 million people make up the LGBT older adults population. That number is expected to grow to 7 million by 2030.
“We need to be able to talk to people who know what we’re going through,” said Danielle Hayduk, founder of Rainbow Steps. “People who we can identify with, people who are part of our family.”
Hayduk says she thinks Oberlin is the perfect fit for the facility.
“They’re so diversified and open to the LGBT community that it seemed like a no-brainer,” she said.
The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland says some adults at care facilities are facing discrimination and even bullying. SAGE cites a national survey that shows only 22 percent of people felt they could be open about their identities with staff at long-term care facilities. Hayduk has heard similar stories.
“A lot of times they are with their peers. These are the people who they hid from when they were growing up and when they were in the closet so a lot of them wind up going back in the closet.”
In 2016, A Place For Us opened on the border of Cleveland and Lakewood. The more than 50 unit apartment complex is geared toward aging members of the LGBT community. Hayduk says Rainbow Steps will be more communal.
“Here you have your bedroom, but you come in and eat with everybody else. You come in and spend time with everybody."
Hayduk is hosting an open house and fundraiser Tuesday evening at Rainbow Steps, 345 N. Professor Street.
She says up the facility can hold up to eight residents. She plans to welcome residents as soon as this week.