Finding Community: LGBT Housing for Seniors

Older people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community will be the first to tell you that being different is not always easy.

Many feel strongly that “if you haven’t lived it, you just wouldn’t understand.” And when it comes to choosing where to retire, these seniors want to live near and among those who do.

That’s why a relatively new market for LGBT-focused multi-unit or single-family development communities for seniors has come about. Marketed to, but not exclusive or restricted to, LGBT people, retirement communities in particular are attractive options.

The American Society on Aging’s Generations magazine last year published an issue focused on LGBT and aging, and found that there is interest and need among LGBT seniors, in particular, for places they can go to feel safe and feel comfortable. Home builders and developers may want to look at demand for such dwellings in their markets.

Doing so may open up local, city, state or nonprofit funding, as with a $78 million public-housing project in Brooklyn. But they are not just springing up in major metropolitan areas. This 2016 list from U.S. News and World Report includes new communities in Cleveland, Ohio, Boone, N.C. and an hour outside of Santa Fe, N.M.

There are still very few (20+ nationwide) communities catering exclusively to the LGBT senior community, be it active lifestyle, elderly residential or medical-focused residential. But it’s not yet clear whether that makes this an untapped market or a narrow specialized niche.

Challenges and Opportunities

One likely reason for the only very recent, and gradual, growth of LGBT communities is that developing communities for any specific subset of the market has challenges. Some observers of the first 20 or so LGBT senior communities built in recent years are seeing that given LGBT historic preferences to live in more populous urban areas, it may be more difficult to drum up the necessary demand in more sparsely populated areas.

Conversely, low-income, subsidized housing for LGBT seniors in urban areas can be in extremely high demand and come with waiting lists and lotteries.

Plus, regulatory matters in this newer realm of housing offering, as well as appropriate training for staff of medically-based senior care facilities are also important factors to be aware of, as an article by Caring.com explains.

But while a close look at your market and the needs and desires of your community is a must, housing targeted to LGBT seniors is still a mostly untouched frontier. People naturally seek community. And as the name of one such development indicates: Birds of a Feather like to flock together for safety, fulfillment, privacy or just knowing there are others who are on the same road.

For more insights related to affinity-specific multiunit housing developments, contact Crystal Jackson of NAHB’s Multifamily Council at 800-368-5242 x8207.

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  1. Pat McAulay says:

    Cohousing is one way for seniors to find community. Village Hearth, in Durham, NC, is the nation’s first LGBT-focused senior cohousing community. Welcoming friends and allies, we’re building 28 of the 220 market rate homes needed for LGBT seniors in this area. Learn more about Cohousing at http://www.cohousing.org and senior cohousing at https://sagecohousinginternational.org.

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