Gay Retirement Communities Falling Victim To The Recession

We’ve already reported on the hardships LGBT seniors face when not part of an embracing and supportive environment. But an article in today’s New York Times says gay retirement communities are seriously struggling during the current economic downturn.

RainbowVision, one of the first LGBT-inclusive retirement homes in the country, has filed for Chapter 11. According to reporter Dan Frosch, it’s not a unique situation:

[RainbowVision’s] problems mirror those of many other gay retirement communities around the country that have either failed to open or fallen on hard times, victims of a weakened housing market, a deflated economy and, in some cases, poor business decisions.

They were once hailed as havens where the so-called Stonewall generation — the first “out” group of senior citizens — could age without being treated with hostility or forced back into the closet. But such communities in Austin, Tex.; Boston and in the Phoenix area never opened because of a lack of finances. A development near Portland, Ore., is struggling at 25 percent of capacity, and another near Sarasota, Fla., has — like RainbowVision — filed for bankruptcy.

Several recent studies have indicated lesbian and gay seniors are discouraged from moving into traditional assisted-care facilities or, if they are admitted, face discrimination and outright hostility by staffers and/or other residents.

While RainbowVision has been plagued with complaints of overcharging by residents, it was still a safe haven. “I don’t want to go back in the closet again,” resident John Wojtkowski says. “When I came here, I felt like I could be myself. Without RainbowVision, there’s no other place to go.”

This is no small problem: There are an estimated 1.5 million elderly gay and lesbians in America—and the fact is, it’s the one group we’ll all be a part of some day.

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  • ggreen

    So many of these places were built outside gay friendly areas. (Florida, Arizona) and mostly filled with Log Cabin types. Who wants to live with those selfish Grandpa Simpson types? (I’m old gimme gimme, gimme)

  • Tom

    A lot of senior facilities in general are having problems, not just the gay ones. I know of several from speaking to elderly family members that have lots of vacancies and/or have put aside plans to expand. In this economy many have lost the value of their retirement plans or have been unable to sell their homes which they may need to buy into such a community.

    While what I’ve heard is anecdotal, the article could have benefited statistics on all retirement communities to put it into context.

  • Interesting

    Its interesting how the gay conservatives will write on this site that the overall economic deterioration of the country is not a gay issues, and yet, the data is all around us that, in fact, gays are probably even more impacted than straights are.

  • Kev C

    Old people have it so easy these days. Back in my day, seniors would be forced to live and die alone in their overpriced apartments, freezing and covered in their own filth.

  • Interesting

    Yes, by all means, let’s have the lowest common denominator of the good old days when seniors were killed off due to extreme poverty as our standard of what gay seniors should expect today. Hey, you may not die of hunger, but we will leave you isolated and forgotten.

  • Jane

    I would like to make the following comment regarding Frosch’s article:
    -Why did he not view what is happening in the LGBT retirement market as part of the larger issues in retirement communities today? Joy Silver provided him with volumes of information from Marcus and Milichamp and the recent NIC conference of retirement communities and investors. His article infers that the issue is one in the LGBT community, when it is an industry wide problem.
    -He fails to note that the LGBT members of RainbowVision still feel safe in this environment of Living Diversity.
    -David Garrity, whom you interviewed, is one of the 3 people at the head of the arbitration litigants group. David Garrity is one of the real estate speculators who has never lived at RainbowVision, never had any intention of living at RainbowVision, who was always a very loud and disturbing presence at HOA meetings, who was against every single increase and change that RainbowVision Management proposed, including being opposed to increasing our income by allowing external memberships to our fitness center. David Garrity’s condo went on the market soon after our Grand Opening. As you know, the real estate market tumbled exactly at this point.
    -There has been no financial mismanagement as Los Alamos National Bank reviews and approves almost every expenditure and check.
    -during the arbitration period over 10,000 documents were supplied by RainbowVision to the litigants’ attorney for review. Almost none of the arbitration claimants took the time to review the documents.
    -Half of the condos that were in the arbitration litigation are owned by speculators who never lived at RainbowVision, or only for an extremely short period of time.
    -You fail to mention that the arbitration results from Judge Hall, were so confused that the claimants attorney, as well as our attorney, had to write asking for explanations. Hall’s comparison of RainbowVision’s fees to Quail Run ( A Santa Fe non-retirement community where the condo prices are 3 – 10x that of RainbowVision) is apples to oranges , making his decision, that led to our declaring Chapter 11, all the more perplexing.

  • Tonyinstpete

    The Palms of Manasota is the nation’s oldest retirement communities specifically set up for gay men and lesbians over 55. Located midway between two very attractive Florida cities: St. Petersburg about 15 miles north and Sarasota about an equal distance south, it has a lot going for it. But it was not immune from the economic crash that has devastated virtually all Florida real estate values during the last five years.

    I believe the bankruptcy of Phase II (condos and villas built at the height of the boom during 2003-2006)was a factor of the developer going under like so many in Florida.

    By contrast, Phase I of the Palms of Manasota is a very attractive lush green residential community of single family homes on individual lots primarily built in the mid to late 1990’s. Phase I has a separate home owners association that is still functioning well and is solvent.

    There are a few previously owned homes in Phase I that come up for sale from time to time. Do contact me if you have an interest in learning more about this community as a possibility for your gay retirement. ([email protected])

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