Manchester City Council has announced plans to create the UK’s first retirement community for LGBT people – with a hard limit on how many non-LGBT residents can live there.
The project, a first in the UK, is intended to cater for the city’s older LGBT population, and is part of wider plans to provide high quality housing for older people.
Manchester City Council specifies that while “heterosexual people will be welcome” in the new community, at least 51% of residents must identify as LGBT.
Staff and carers will receive specific training on LGBT issues at the project, which is also backed by he LGBT Foundation, Stonewall Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency.
The council pointed to a recent LGBT Foundation report that indicated higher levels of loneliness and isolation amongst LGBT older people, experience and fear of discrimination in existing accommodation and a “desire for affordable, accessible LGBT specific accommodation where they can be open about their identity in later life”.
Explaining the project, Cllr Bev Craig said:“Prejudice and discrimination can be a real problem facing older LGBT people. People shouldn’t have to face the prospect as they get older of being surrounded by people who may not accept their sexuality or gender identity.
“Older people should never feel isolated by who they are, or who they love. Alongside improving this in general provision, it is time that we develop a scheme in Manchester that provides care for LGBT people, providing a place where the LGBT community can give each other a network of support in older age.”
Cllr Bernard Priest added: “It is imperative that we move now to create the housing necessary to support older people and meet demand before it’s too late. This scheme will provide that support for group of people who would otherwise struggle to find the appropriate accommodation, and I’m keen to develop this project given Manchester’s standing as an LGBT friendly city, and our status as an international Age-friendly city.”
Paul Martin, chief executive of LGBT Foundation, said: “Our research highlighted that over half of the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people over 55 surveyed felt that their sexual orientation would have a negative impact on getting older, with social isolation identified as a major concern. Manchester prides itself as an Age Friendly City, and we welcome the announcement of this scheme as a significant move towards improving the lives of older LGBT people in the area.”
Bob Green OBE, CEO of Stonewall Housing, said: “Stonewall Housing has been talking with our communities about the need for older LGBT housing for some time because we need and want a better choice of where we live in our later lives. It is very exciting that Manchester City Council are leading the way in delivering the dream of LGBT-affirmative Extra Care housing and we look forward to working with them and a range of partners in making this dream a reality.”
No specific site or launch date has yet been announced.