LGBT retirement communities grow in popularity in spite of economic challenges
Even with the growing popularity of LGBT-specific retirement communities, developers and organizers still face challenges that can cripple building efforts.
Finances are the first and biggest hurdle developers must jump over.
Successful communities like Triangle Square, the affordable housing center in Los Angeles built by the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, are examples of how tenacity and patience have paid off. It took about 22 million dollars in state and federal housing funds to complete this project.
"For the low income, obviously there’s no money in it, so if you’re a for-profit developer this is not what you want to do," said Mark Supper, executive director of GLEH. "In the criteria to acquire funds, you have to have a lot of development experience and you’re also a landlord and social service provider. There’s a lot of bureaucracy, in a sense, in running these things."
Even more mainstream LGBT retirement communities, however, are difficult to complete. Construction on Dallas’ Silver Hope project stopped in 2008 because funding became difficult to obtain. And a more recent development in Boston, Stonewall Communities’ Audubon Circle, had to halt construction at the end of last year because of the economic downturn.
In spite of the recession, there are some developments that continue to progress. These include the projects headed up by Gay and Lesbian Association of Retiring Persons.
Mary Thornbal, executive director of GLARP, said even with land scarcity and resistance from some residents, her organization is close to the construction stage of their assisted living, permanent care non-profit facility.
"It’s very expensive and I feel very fortunate to have land that a company is very inclined to fund, so I’m anxious to get going on it," added Thornbal. "We have a team in place that’s ready to move on the development as soon as we get the land in place..."