Senior Living Options for LGBTQIA+ Adults
Reviewed by: Dr. Brindusa Vanta, MD
Access to safe, clean housing and adequate care is vital for older adults, but for those who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, finding that care is often more challenging than it is for the average senior. Discrimination due to gender or sexual preference can make it difficult to find a senior living option where they feel safe, accepted and well cared for.
According to research published by Healthy People, an initiative of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, discrimination against LGBTQIA+ seniors is associated with increased rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide, highlighting the importance of discrimination-free health care and living options for LGBTQIA+ elders. This especially applies to those living in poverty or with poor physical or mental health, all of which LGBTQIA+ seniors are unfortunately more vulnerable to.
In this guide, we discuss housing rights for LGBTQIA+ seniors, common challenges faced by elderly members of this community, and how their loved ones can find safe, comfortable senior housing. It also includes lists of resources where seniors can seek help.
Housing Rights for LGBTQIA+ Seniors
It's important for LGBTQIA+ seniors to know their rights and understand what protections are in place to ensure their access to safe, sanitary housing without facing discrimination.
Protections are in place at the federal, state and municipal levels to prevent LGBTQIA+ seniors from experiencing discrimination, abuse or neglect in all types of public and private housing, including long-term care. These laws protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ seniors to maintain privacy and respect when it comes to gender identity and sexual orientation.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.
While the FHA doesn't explicitly mention the rights of LGBTQIA+ seniors or sexual orientation/gender identity, it does apply to members of this community. Its protections prohibit landlords and real estate companies from discriminatory actions based on a person's LGBTQIA+ identity, such as:
- Refusing to rent, sell or negotiate
- Setting different terms, conditions or privileges
- Advertising or making any statement that indicates a preference or limitation
- Retaliating against a person who asserts their FHA-granted rights
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Equal Access Rule
The Equal Access Rule is a federal regulation that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in HUD-funded and -insured housing programs. The Equal Access Rule includes various protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including:
- Prohibiting operators from asking about a person's orientation or gender identity
- Prohibiting operators from denying or limiting access to housing
- Prohibiting operators from setting different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Requiring operators to make reasonable accommodations for LGBTQIA+ individuals with disabilities
Along with federal regulations protecting elderly members of the LGBTQIA+ community, there are many regulations and laws at state and municipal levels. Seniors who identify as members of this often marginalized group should research what laws are in place in their area to protect their right to safe and affordable housing.
Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ Seniors
LGBTQIA+ seniors face a variety of unique challenges that can make aging more difficult compared with other senior citizens.
Many LGBTQIA+ seniors face financial constraints, often as a result of employment and financial discrimination they've faced throughout their lives. Challenges with obtaining credit products such as loans and mortgages, as well as unfair treatment in the workplace, may have made it more difficult to get ahead financially compared with their non-LGBTQIA+ peers.
Furthermore, LGBTQIA+ seniors are more likely to live alone and without children, which can put them at a disadvantage compared to those with larger family networks.
Despite federal and state laws that protect LGBTQIA+ seniors from discrimination when searching for housing, it still occurs in many areas. Some landlords may refuse to rent to LGBTQIA+ individuals or provide members of the LGBTQIA+ community with homes that have substandard living conditions.
Isolation affects many members of the LGBTQIA+ community; however, research published by the AARP indicates that gay men are likely to be more isolated than lesbians. While 43% of gay men polled said they were concerned about having adequate family support while aging, only 41% of lesbians felt the same. When asked who they relied on within their support network, only 50% of gay men mentioned a spouse or partner, while 67% of lesbians said they relied on their spouse.
Health Care Disparities
Health care disparities are common among seniors who identify as LGBTQIA+. These seniors are often less likely to seek health care services due to a fear of facing discrimination or concern about the quality of care they may receive.
In addition to the challenges outlined above, LGBTQIA+ seniors may face several other issues. For example, they may be more likely to experience physical and emotional abuse from peers and family members. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ seniors may face discrimination in accessing community services or other resources that can be critical to maintaining their quality of life.
What Are the Best Places for LGBTQIA+ Seniors to Live?
San Francisco, California
San Francisco has one of the largest LGBTQIA+ communities that accounts for about 6.7% of the population. The city is known as the LGBTQ capital of the world thanks to its citywide community that welcomes every person, regardless of gender or sexual preference. Pride flags fly year-round throughout the city, while events such as pride parades and festivals celebrate individuality.
Although San Francisco's lifestyle has much to offer LGBTQIA+ seniors, the cost of living here is 144% above the U.S. average. Furthermore, according to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, assisted living is also priced well above the U.S. average of $4,500 at $6,319 per month, so seniors with limited budgets may want to consider alternative locations.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale is proud to be a city that celebrates inclusion and offers support to members of its LGBTQIA+ community. The city earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipality Index, indicating that its employment, social services and law enforcement do a good job of protecting equality for all of its citizens.
While the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is a bit above the national average, it's a relatively affordable city. Best of all, the area's senior care costs are below the U.S. median with assisted living costing an average of $4,385 per month.
Orlando is a diverse city that's committed to creating a welcoming environment for its LGBTQIA+ citizens who make up about 5% of its population. It hosts annual events such as a pride parade and is home to many inclusive clubs and restaurants. The nondiscrimination ordinance established in 1973 ensures protections and equal access to city services for its LGBTQIA+ residents.
Health care costs in the city are below the national average, while the cost of living here is just slightly above. Senior care expenses are also below the U.S. average, with assisted living costing an average of just $4,000 per month.
Seattle's LGBTQ Commission is a joint effort of the mayor, city council and other city departments. This commission works together to address issues that affect the local LGBTQIA+ community and ensure its members are treated equitably. The city also has a relatively large LGBTQIA+ population of around 5.2% and is home to an array of stores, cafes and restaurants that proudly welcome members of the community.
When it comes to affordability, Seattle can be expensive. While housing costs are nearly triple the U.S average, the cost of health care is almost 12% below, helping to balance out the overall living expenses. The city's high housing costs affect the rates for senior living—assisted living in Seattle costs an average of $6,750 per month, which is $2,250 above the national median.
Pittsburgh is home to plenty of LGBTQIA+-friendly neighborhoods and amenities. The city is known as one of the most desirable locations for members of the LGBTQIA+ community thanks to its inclusive laws, frequent festivals and a population that accounts for about 3.3% of city residents. The Strip District, located in the heart of the city, boasts plenty of boutiques and markets designed to appeal to community members.
While Pittsburgh's crime rates are above-average, seniors considering independent or assisted living here can feel confident that these facilities are generally secure and staffed 24 hours a day. The cost of living in the city is more than 8% below the U.S. average, and the cost savings continue when it comes to senior care. Assisted living here costs an average of $3,250 per month, which is $1,250 below the nationwide median.
LGBTQIA+-Friendly Retirement Communities & Villages
Retirement communities and villages are designed to provide a safe environment for adults in their retirement years. A retirement village is typically a cluster of single- or multifamily homes that are exclusively available for purchase by those aged 55 and older. These communities are ideal for seniors who seek a quiet lifestyle but still have the means to handle their own home maintenance.
|Birds of a Feather||White Hawk Trail, Pecos, NM 87552||(505) 757-2901||Birds of a Feather offers LGBTQIA+ seniors architect-designed or custom-built homes in a forested area. Community features include fireplaces, double-car garages, and outdoor spaces. Choose contemporary or Southwestern/Pueblo styles.|
|Carefree Cove||160 Carefree Cove Road, Zionville, NC 28698||(828) 263-4252||Carefree Cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect place for LGBTQIA+ seniors looking to retire in a welcoming community. Enjoy a maintained hiking trail, water features, and a community garden. Residents have easy access to medical care and local social groups.|
|Discovery Bay Resort||North Olympic Peninsula, WA||(360) 797-7222||Discovery Bay Resort is a women-only, LGBTQIA+-friendly retirement community with a beautiful view of Discovery Bay. Amenities include a heated pool, community garden, exercise room and Wi-Fi. The resort also features blackberry bushes, apple trees and a lush green meadow.|
|Fountaingrove Lodge||516 3rd Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401||(707) 282-5023||Fountaingrove Lodge is a luxury retirement community in Santa Rosa, California. It is LGBTQIA+ friendly and open to allies who value inclusivity. Amenities include a private movie theater, wine cave, swimming pool, and well-maintained grounds. Walk to local shops, art galleries, and restaurants.|
LGBTQIA+-Friendly Independent Living Communities
Independent living is a great option for seniors who are in good health and able to care for themselves but desire a low-maintenance lifestyle. Often, these communities offer amenities such as planned social activities for residents, meals and housekeeping services.
|A Place for Us||11610 Madison Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102||(844) 329-9215||A Place for Us, Ohio's first LGBTQIA+-friendly senior community, welcomes residents 55 and over. Enjoy inclusive living, with air-conditioned apartments that feature fully equipped kitchens, large closets, and window coverings. Community amenities include a business center, 24-hour emergency maintenance and a library.|
|John C. Anderson Apartments||251 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107||(267) 915-0063||John C. Anderson Apartments is an LGBTQIA+-friendly senior community in Center City Philadelphia. Enjoy convenient access to local grocery stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities and cultural attractions. Each one-bedroom apartment has an open floor plan, providing ample space for residents to entertain or enjoy their hobbies. Shared amenities include a patio and community room.|
|Living Out Palm Springs||1122 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262||(833) 548-3688||Living Out is a resort-style apartment community designed for LGBTQ adults over 55. Meet new friends with shared interests while enjoying concierge services, fitness center, salon, swimming pool, and spa. Apartments feature open floor plans with views of nearby mountains and desert vegetation.|
|Rainbow Vista||1350 West Powell Boulevard, Gresham, OR 97030||(503) 667-5575||Rainbow Vista is a gay community designed for men and women aged 55+. It's located just 15 miles from downtown Portland, Oregon, and offers a safe and welcoming environment for the LGBTQIA+ community. Rent includes parking, internet, laundry facilities and all utilities except for telephone service. Each apartment has a kitchenette with a hot plate, microwave, and small refrigerator.|
LGBTQIA+-Friendly Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities offer 24-hour supervision and help with daily living activities such as grooming, dressing and mobility. They typically provide three meals each day, social activities and limited health services, including medication management. These communities are best for seniors who require some assistance each day.
|305 West End Assisted Living||305 West End Avenue at 74th, New York, NY 10023||(212) 969-8464||305 West End Assisted Living in New York City offers luxury assisted living for seniors. Amenities include town car service, motor coach transportation, on-site parties, a salon, and weekly laundry service. Although not specifically for LGBTQIA+ seniors, the neighborhood is inclusive and promotes self-expression.|
|Belmont Village||2051 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90068||(323) 874-7711||Belmont Village offers a welcoming environment for seniors of all ages and backgrounds, with about 9% of residents identifying as LGBTQIA+. Enjoy on-site physical therapy, social events, chef-prepared meals, and a fitness center with professional supervision. Residents have access to concierge services and high safety standards.|
|Kingsley Manor||1055 North Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90029||(323) 661-1128||Kingsley Manor is a senior community offering assisted living with multiple floor plans, including studios, one-bedroom apartments with patios, and extra closet space. Enjoy biweekly housekeeping, cultural programs, Wi-Fi, and transportation to nearby shops and medical offices. The community features a chapel, wellness clinic, and 24-hour emergency call system.|
|Stonewall Gardens||2150 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262||(760) 548-0970||Stonewall Gardens in Palm Springs offers 24/7 staffing, ensuring residents have the support they need. Amenities include an emergency call system, three meals per day, roll-in showers, and plenty of social and leisure activities. Floor plans feature individual HVAC controls for maximum comfort.|
|The Montecito Santa Fe||500 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505||(505) 428-7777||The Montecito in Santa Fe offers personalized services, including supervision, case management, medication monitoring, and daily health reminders. Although no longer marketed as an LGBTQIA+ community, residents of all backgrounds enjoy an inclusive environment where differences are celebrated.|
LGBTQIA+-Friendly Memory Care Communities
Memory care communities are often housed within assisted living facilities. These are secure wings or facilities that provide the same level of service as an assisted living program but with the added benefit of dementia care for seniors who live with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
|Aston Gardens at Pelican Marsh||4800 Aston Gardens Way, Naples, FL 34109||(239) 296-5434||Aston Gardens at Pelican Marsh offers a person-centered approach to dementia care, including the SHINE® program designed for seniors with memory loss. Services include special dietary plans, small-group activities, and sensory activities to promote relaxation. Staff members receive ongoing training to provide excellent care.|
|Bristol House Memory Care||2527 Bristol Road, Warrington, PA 18976||(215) 491-1501||Bristol House Memory Care creates an uplifting environment for seniors, making it a good option for LGBTQIA+ community members. The memory care program emphasizes effective communication and understanding how dementia affects daily activities. Security features include locked doors and hidden exits.|
|Plymouth Terrace Senior Living||205 Haggerty Road, Plymouth, MI 48170||(734) 451-0700||Plymouth Terrace Senior Living is committed to creating an inclusive environment that doesn't tolerate discrimination or bullying against LGBTQIA+ community members. Staff members perform individual assessments to determine the level of care needed. Amenities include housekeeping, linen services, cable, and an on-site salon, some of which may incur extra fees.|
|The Fountains at Sea Bluffs||25411 Sea Bluffs Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629||(949) 234-3000||The Foundations at Sea Bluffs provides memory care that emphasizes each resident's overall well-being. Staff members are leaders who promote connections among residents. The community offers nutritious meals, art therapy, music therapy, and other services to promote engagement.|
|The Parkview||100 Valley Avenue, Pleasanton, CA 94566||(925) 461-3042||The Parkview is a memory care community offering multiple floor plans to fit each resident's needs. Every apartment has a kitchenette and emergency response system for safety and independence. Amenities include restaurant-style dining, 24/7 supervision, weekly housekeeping, cable TV, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Although not exclusively for LGBTQIA seniors, The Parkview welcomes every senior with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia.|
Affordable LGBTQIA+-Friendly Housing Options for Low-Income Seniors
Affordable housing comes in many forms. Seniors who require access to low-income housing may have the opportunity to live in an assisted living community, an apartment or a single-family home at a cost that's subsidized to suit their budget. Affordable housing is often provided by state and federal assistance programs, such as HUD's Section 202 Housing for the Elderly Program.
|LGBT Network Apartments||125 Kennedy Drive Suite 100, Hauppauge, NY 11788||(631) 665-2300||The LGBT Support Network helps aging LGBTQIA+ individuals stay healthy and true to themselves. Its affordable housing community in Long Island, New York, consists of 75 apartments and a large community center for events and activities.|
|North Park Seniors||4200 Texas Street, San Diego CA 92104||(619) 955-8321||North Park Seniors is an affordable living community for seniors aged 55 and older. The community is completely ADA accessible, making it an excellent fit for LGBTQIA+ seniors with disabilities. On-site resident services provided by the San Diego LGBT Community Center.|
|The Residences at Equality Park||2040 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors, FL 33305||(954) 463-9005||The Residences at Equality Park is an affordable housing community with 130 units designed for LGBTQIA+ seniors. Social services are provided to help seniors live their best lives.|
|Town Hall Apartments||3600 North Halsted, Chicago, IL, 60613||(312) 660-1300||Town Hall Apartments is a 55+ senior living community in a repurposed police building. Residents have access to a terrace, bicycle parking, a computer lab, and more. The community is adjacent to the Center on Halsted, which provides social services to LGBTQIA+ residents.|
|Triangle Square Apartments||1602 Ivar Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028||(323) 466-4372||Triangle Square Apartments was the first affordable housing community designed for LGBTQIA+ seniors. Each apartment has spacious bathrooms, natural lighting, and efficient appliances. Community amenities include a fitness center, gated parking, 24-hour emergency maintenance, and a picnic area. Floor plans range from one to two bedrooms.|
What to Look For in a Senior Living Community for LGBTQIA+ Adults: A ChecklistDownload
Financial Assistance for LGBTQIA+ Seniors
|Organization||How it Helps|
|Senior Rainbow Assistance Program||This nonprofit organization offers an array of services for those aged 55 and older who identify as LGBTQIA+. Services include rent and mortgage assistance,as well as help with related expenses such as groceries and utilities. To qualify, seniors must demonstrate financial need.|
|Veterans Affairs Benefits||The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides veterans and their immediate family members with health care services, as well as financial help for seniors requiring home health care, assisted living or nursing care.|
|Social Security Survivors Benefits||Widows, widowers and other dependents of eligible workers may qualify for survivor benefits after a loved one dies. This benefit is paid monthly and is based on the amount of the deceased's benefit.|
|SAGECents||SAGECents helps elderly members of the LGBTQIA+ community learn how to improve their financial well-being through an array of resources and tools available online. This includes help finding benefit programs and tips for increasing their credit scores.|
Resources for LGBTQIA+ Seniors
|Organization||Contact||How it Helps|
|SAGE USA||(214) 741-2247|
|SAGE USA is an advocacy organization that promotes equality for members of the LGBTQIA+ community across the United States. It provides services such as education for caregivers and family members, advocacy for elders and counseling for LGBTQIA+ seniors who've faced discrimination or unfair treatment.|
|National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging||(212) 741-2247|
|Funded by SAGE USA, the National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging provides technical assistance and support for LGBTQIA+ seniors in every state. It features an online library stocked with guides, reports and webinars, as well as education for caregivers, community members and family members.|
|LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline||(877) 360-5428||The LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline is available 24 hours a day to provide LGBTQIA+ seniors with mental health support and access to local or state resources|
|Human Resources Campaign- Health & Aging||(800) 777-4723|
|The HRC's Health & Aging page is dedicated to helping LGBTQIA+ seniors and adults find appropriate health care and living options. It provides a Healthcare Equality Index and a Long-Term Care Equality Index to help seniors access services they need without the risk of discrimination or mistreatment.|
|National LGBTQ Task Force||(202) 393-5177|
|The LGBTQ Task Force is a nonprofit organization driven by LGBTQIA+ persons and allies. Its mission is to advance justice and equality for LGBTQIA+ people in all areas, including politics, health care, law enforcement and senior care.|