Winnipeg group hopes for housing dedicated to LGBT seniors
For some senior citizens, going into a retirement home can feel like going back into the closet.
Winnipeg resident Jim Kane, 63, grew up during a time when being gay was widely stigmatized.
Times have changed, but Kane and other LGBT Canadians worry that attitudes have not changed enough for them to feel comfortable in seniors housing.
“I know a lot of older senior gay men who, after they went into seniors housing ... felt more socially isolated,” Kane said.
Winnipeg’s Rainbow Resource Centre is hoping to change that, with a proposed seniors home dedicated entirely to members of the LGBT community.
The Rainbow Resource Centre envisions a facility housing up to 120 units. Executive Director Mike Tutthill says the centre hears from LGBT people who have lost their partners.
“Therefore they’re reaching out to create a sense of community for themselves,” Tutthill said.
A survey of 399 LGBT seniors by the Ottawa Senior Pride Network found a similar need, with only 41 per cent agreeing they would “feel free to be open” about their sexual orientation in a retirement community or extended care facility.
And a 2015 University of Alberta study of people 55 and older found that being respected as LGBT was a top concern when it comes to senior housing, beating out facility qualities (including food) and affordability.
Winnipeg City Councillor Jenny Gerbasi said the new housing is “very much needed” and she is supporting a proposal to have the city pay half of the $50,000 cost for a feasibility study.
She’s also hoping $40 billion in federal money for housing announced last week will help.
A similar feasibility study is already underway in Edmonton, and expected to be completed next fall.
The Canadian Association for Retired Persons reports that LGBT-friendly senior residences have already been built in U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago.
With a report from CTV’s Jill Macyshon in Winnipeg