On the Horizon: Low Income Housing for Gay Seniors

Hey, more and more of us are hitting the Big Six O, and gay retirement communities for the well-heeled, mirroring the kind of retirement community my financially comfortable parents enjoyed when they were alive, are already big business across the country and abroad.

O.K., but what about housing for low income gay seniors? They’re only beginning to be talked about. There’s one showcase project in Center City Philly, another opening in Hollywood, California this spring, and here in Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto, Wilton Manors, with one of the largest older gay populations in the country – the Sunshine State being a popular retirement destination – developers are also recognizing the need.

Sure there are funding issues – private vs subsidized – but the bigger issue in my mind is who should qualify.

With the Hollywood project, for example, a certain number of apartments have been allocated for those with HIV/AIDS and the homeless, which is all well and good.

And certainly, also deserving are those who never made big money (not everybody’s born an Einstein or a Bill Gates) or may have had financial setbacks in their lives like illness or losing their job in their fifties when age discrimination in the workplace is rampant but hard to prove.

But about these scenarios?

Let’s call him Danny. While the rest of us were working, whether it was cutting multi-million deals in a corporate office or bagging groceries at the local supermarket, Danny was partying. Partying through the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s and 00’s. Maybe his consistently high demeanor led him to unsafe behavior and he also became infected. Maybe not. Now at 65, Danny has nothing, zilch, may be living on a disability check or money from floating short term, under-the- carpet gigs, enough to get by and stay high.

Or Jim, the guy one of my wealthier friends told me about, who made a decent living, spent it as fast as it came in on vacations and cruises and clothes, and now at 65 is a Walmart greeter just to pay his rent.

Would either of these guys qualify for low income gay housing? Should they?

Just asking.

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