Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities face particular challenges that impact on their housing needs as they age. Evidence shows that older LGBT people are statistically more likely to live alone and are less likely to have children or extended family networks they can call on for support. Some are reluctant to ask for help/support from formal housing, health or social care providers because of fear of discrimination. Fear of homophobic, biphobic, transphobic responses and worries about harassment will influence whether or not they disclose their sexual orientation/gender identity.
From our engagement within the community we have identified housing as a key concern for older LGBT people. Some of the key drivers for this concern are:
The personal perspective: Where will we live when we are older?
We are choosing to concentrate on our business and not have children. This creates a huge question over our older years with not having younger family to support us. Where will we live? We want to be somewhere safe but realistically we won’t have any family around. We live our lives authentically, and believe that this is the key to happiness and success. We definitely do not want to go back into the closet, or worry that we may have to move somewhere that doesn’t understand us.
Although we (Katie and Naomi) are young now, we are only too aware that we will be old one day, and that suitable, safe accommodation will not appear over night. We were also struck by the number of women who attended an event at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and were very vocal about the need right now for safe housing in older life.
Social change: There are people now who are older who fought for our rights who don’t have a choice about where they live and as a result are isolated and closeted
Choice and safety are important factors, in particular for the more vulnerable communities. For the Jewish or actor acting communities there is the choice to go into a home surrounded by like-minded people with common interests. We believe that this is equally important within the LGBT community.
Planet Residential is in a strong position to drive this work forward building on the foundations of the values, experience as assets of Ultimate Planet and its subsidiary projects which are well established and trusted within the LGBT community across the UK.
Why is LGBT Housing important?
The LGBT community is one of the few communities that crosses many different characteristics of the human race, but can also face discrimination from them as well.
The LGBT community has specific requirements that just aren't understand or catered for in mainstream older housing.
Many older LGBT people don't have family to support them in later life due to the law around marriage and families only recently becoming stable enough to allow many to start a family.
Current housing provision is not adequate in understanding the specific needs of the LGBT community and their lifestyle.
Why is LGBT Housing important in the UK?
There are properties across Europe, and in the US. However many LGBT people have friends and family that they don't want to leave. Others just don't want to leave the UK. Perhaps they need the certainty of the NHS, or that they don't know a foreign language and so don't want to live somewhere where language could be a barrier.
What do we hope to Achieve?
- To bring together key stakeholders in the room to discuss the feasibility of achievable and adequate older LGBT housing.
- Thorough research across the LGBT community, not just older but across all generations, to find out what is important in older LGBT housing, particularly looking at:
- Mixed tenure accommodation
- Integrating community, care and support services
- inter-generational living
- mixed-gender accommodation
- LGBT and allies accommodation that may also provide a safe space for others such as abused women
- support younger LGBT people who are made homeless by offering a temporary space with access to mentoring via residents and work experience to enable the young person to gain independence and get a home and job