Some of us are enthusiasts, but that doesn't mean we know what we're doing. In What Am I Doing in the Garden? Tom Sightings of Sightings at 60 waxes eloquent about the joys of tilling the soil, planting seeds and imagining a bounteous harvest. Then he realizes every garden has its thorns in weeds, woodchucks and other wily critters, and goes on to wonder if there's an affinity group for retired suburban hayseeds. Meanwhile, if you want to know "What Baby Boomers Worry About" check out his article, to be published on Tuesday at U. S. News: On Retirement .
The first of the 77 million Baby Boomers reached retirement age last year, in what’s being called the gray tsunami. According to Serena Worthington of the nonprofit Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE), there are currently between 1.75 million and 4 million gays and lesbians over age 65. By 2030 their number is expected to nearly double.
Just as there are niche “affinity” communities popping up to serve tai chi enthusiasts, Catholics, and even Harvard grads, an increasing number of options now exist for LGBT seniors. Birds of a Feather Resort Community in Pecos, N.M., founded in 2004, announced plans to double in size, from 8 to 16 units, this year. In Los Angeles, management at Triangle Square, a 104-unit low-income facility with a nearly decade-long waiting list, recently broke ground on a second site, a $17.5 million project with 40 units, set to open in 2014. Similar gay-friendly retirement projects are under way in cities across the country—Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Minneapolis—joining Rose Villa and Rainbow Vista, both in Portland, Ore.; Carefree Cove, near Boone, N.C.; and The Resort on Carefree Boulevard in Fort Myers, Fla.
Although the gay rights movement has made serious strides in recent years, a 2011 study by the National Senior Citizens Law Center showed frequent mistreatment toward aging gays and lesbians at long-term care centers. “The biggest fear is being forced back into the closet,” says Eric Harrison, executive director of Triangle Square. After a lifetime of fighting for civil rights, the Stonewall Generation would like their golden years to be pink, too.
About 49 percent of Americans older than 65 are considered poor or low-income, according to 2011 U.S. Census data, and it’s no different in the LGBT population. “The image of the gay community was rich, white gay men with double incomes, but the No. 1 issue we found was affordable housing,” says Mark Segal, the developer behind a sleek, $19.5 million LGBT senior housing project set to open in 2014 in the heart of downtown Philadelphia’s so-called gayborhood. A recent MetLife Market Study echoes that sentiment, showing that one in five LGBT boomers are unsure of who would care for them if they got sick. This issue hasn’t gone unnoticed in Washington, with the White House holding two conferences on LGBT aging in the last year. Openhouse, a San Francisco-based nonprofit advocacy group, is developing 55 Laguna—a $60 million, 110-unit project due to open in 2015 in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, adjacent to the Castro.
Source:Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 20, 2013