Los Angeles Gay Retirees Get First Low-Cost Housing Units

The nation’s first low-cost housing development aimed specifically at gay, lesbian and transgender retirees opened its doors in Hollywood on Thursday with a promise to provide a dignified haven for elderly homosexuals to live out their days.
Calling it a historic day for the gay and lesbian community in both Los Angeles and the United States, officials opened the 104-unit affordable housing complex, built around a pool and open courtyard and complete with an activity center and disabled facilities.
About a third of the units will be set aside for low-income older Americans with HIV/AIDS, those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
“All parties went into this development with the belief that regardless of a senior’s income, race or sexual preference they are entitled to live in a decent, safe and friendly living environment,” said Tony Salazar of developers McCormack Baron Salazar.
According to a recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles, the city has a gay population of 442,000 — the second highest in the United States after New York. West Hollywood has a 40 percent gay or lesbian population, making it one of the largest gay scenes in the world.
Yet even in Los Angeles, gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender adults face daunting challenges in what can often be a lonely and isolated old age, the nonprofit Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing group said.
Same-sex partners cannot share a room in most elderly care facilities and gays often face prejudice and lack the family support systems enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.
Some are forced to hide their sexual orientation when they enter assisted living facilities after years of living openly as gays.
“I had a friend who got diabetes and went into a retirement home and at the age of 85 he was back in the closet. It was awful,” said prospective tenant John Richards, 70. “It would be wonderful if there were more places like this.”
Funding for the $20.8 million Triangle Square development came from California state and Los Angeles city agencies.
“The market is there, the need is there. This is the first one in the nation,” said Mercedes Marquez, general manager of Los Angeles city housing department.
Los Angeles city councilman Bill Rosendahl said that as America’s first waves of openly gay activists get older, more places like Triangle Square would be needed.
from Reuters

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