Affordable Housing for LGBT Older Adults on the Rise

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Until recently, if you were older, gay, and low-income, finding housing would have proven elusive. That is beginning to change. This month, a six-story affordable housing apartment building for gay, lesbian and transgendered adults over age 62 has opened in downtown Philadelphia. It offers heath services and events under its roof to residents who live in the 56 one-bedroom units.

The John C. Anderson Apartments, as it is known, is part of a growing trend of similar LGBT senior housing being developed in other parts of the country to address the needs of the country's 1.5 million LGBT Americans age 65+. By 2030, the number is expected to double.

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Many LGBT elders don't have a strong a support system. Most don't have children. That means that when they become older and need help, they may not have family caregivers to step up, not to mention the financial wherewithal. Often they feel isolated and alone, reluctant to go into setting (independent, assisted living) where they may feel unwelcome. With housing specifically geared to an older LGBT population, residents can be part of a community, helping one another as they age. Bringing social and health care services to where they live allows them to age in place longer.

There are less than a handful of "retirement" communities geared to the LGBT population, but they are for the affluent, not the low-income. For example, Fountaingrove Lodge, in California's Sonoma wine country, opened within the last couple of months. It is the first LGBT independent living community for older adults in the country, and includes memory care and other medical services. But not many can afford the luxe accommodations and amenities, from gourmet food to personal trainers.

Spirit on Lake in Minneapolis accepted its first gay, older LGBT residents into its affordable housing apartments last summer. Downtown San Francisco is also rolling out its own affordable housing for the age 55+ LGBT population, with construction on 110 apartments slated for later this year. Chicago is building units next to a community center geared to the LGBT demographic and  the concept is under consideration in New York City.

Sally Abrahms writes on aging and baby boomers, with a focus on caregiving, housing and age 50+ work. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Photo:  Ludovic Bertron/Flickr


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