Los Angeles is set to become the first U.S. city to subsidize housing for homosexual seniors.
A few retirement facilities around the country are set apart for homosexuals, but the $18 million project is believed to be the first financially supported by a city, according to the Gay Financial Network, or GFN.
The 103-unit complex is a joint effort of the city of Los Angeles, the non-profit Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing Corp. and St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar.
The plan is to break ground in the spring and open in 2005 on city-owned land a few blocks from the famed Hollywood Boulevard, GFN said.
Ivy Bottini, 77, board member of the Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing Corp., says the project will ensure there are “a whole bunch of older lesbian and gay people who will not have to live alone.”
“Unless you have a social circle that’s aging with you, it can be so hard,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “There’s a lot of isolation in growing old alone, without other people like yourself around you.”
A survey conducted by Bottini’s group two years ago found 72 percent of elderly ‘gay’ men and 37 percent of elderly lesbians said they had no one to care for them, according to GFN.
Brian M. Neimark, 34, the group’s executive director, said younger homosexuals don’t always pay enough attention to the fate of older people in their community,
“These are the people who fought so that I can walk down the street holding hands with someone,” he told GFN. “But nobody’s helping them. They get pushed to the fringe of the community and put out to pasture.”
Unlike nearly every retirement home, seniors with same-sex partners will be able to share rooms at the new facility.
The homosexual rights group, Human Rights Campaign, says, however, more retirement communities of this kind are being planned nationwide as the current population of baby boomers begins to reach retirement. Existing communities are in Palmetto, Fla., Fort Myers, Fla., and Apache Junction, Ariz., GFN said. Another five are under development, two in San Francisco, two in New Mexico and one in North Carolina.
Officials estimate the greater Los Angeles area has 30,000 to 75,000 “gay,” lesbian, bisexual and transgender senior citizens.