An older living scheme described as the "UK's first LGBT+ affirming retirement community" has been given the green light after securing a £5.7 million loan from the Mayor of London.
Tonic Housing has used the funds to buy 19 flats at Bankhouse, Vauxhall in order to provide assisted living specifically for elderly LGBT+ individuals. The housing scheme promises to actively celebrate LGBT+ identities and collaborate with LBGT+ organisations to host activities and events.
In 2017, the British Social Attitudes Survey found that, while a majority of respondents approved of same-sex relations and relationships, just 29% of those aged 75+ believed that these were "always ok". The same survey also found that less than half of the same age group agreed with the statement that transphobia is "always wrong".
The fact that the social attitudes among older people skew conservative is hardly surprising. Rather, the stats throw the specific challenges facing LGBT+ elders into sharp relief — such individuals may feel they can't live freely on joining a traditional retirement community, given the low-levels of acceptance for non-normative sexual and gender identities with their age group.
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Conversely, joining an LGBT+ affirming assisted living scheme may provide new opportunities to share common experiences. In 2018, the National LGBT Survey found that only 0.7% of people aged 65+ identified as gay — less than any other age group. For some elders, this could be the first time they've felt part of any LGBT+ community, particularly if they spent much of their lives closeted.
Each flat at Bankside will be available this spring via shared ownership, with prices expected to start at £135,000 for a 25% share of a 1-bed apartment. Keeps tabs on Tonic Housing's website for all the latest updates.