Advocates: More gay-friendly senior housing needed

December 29, 2011 - 12:35 PM
Aging America Gays Housing

Donald Carter poses for a photograph Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 in Philadelphia. Carter knows his arthritis and other age-related infirmities will not allow him to live indefinitely in his third-floor walkup apartment in Philadelphia. But as a low-income renter, Carter has limited options. And as a gay black man, he's concerned his choice of senior living facilities might be narrowed further by the possibility of intolerant residents or staff members. Elder advocates say a lack of gay-friendly affordable housing for seniors is leading many to hide their sexual orientation after years of being open about it. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Elder advocates say a lack of gay-friendly affordable housing for seniors is leading many to hide their sexual orientation after years of being open about it.

Gay seniors fear discrimination, disrespect or worse by health care workers and residents of elder housing facilities.

Experts say the issue is becoming more urgent as baby boomers begin turning 65 this year. They say the gay elder population is expected to double, to at least 3 million, by 2030.

The nation's first gay-friendly affordable housing facility opened in Los Angeles six years ago and has a waiting list of hundreds. A group in Philadelphia hopes to replicate that success.

Yet advocates say construction alone won't solve the problem. They say sensitivity training at existing facilities and programs is the best solution.