Bringing people together
All round the UK, individual older LGBT people are thinking and talking about where they’re going to live in the future, and who will look after them if they need care.
Not all of them, though, are looking at new housing schemes. Many are interested in shared housing or in other ways of working together to plan and develop their own housing.
Some may have a history of living in housing co-ops, hard-to-let schemes or shared housing schemes. So what options are available?
The UK Cohousing Network defines co-housing as:
A type of intentional community, composed of self-contained homes supplemented by shared facilities. The community is planned and managed by the residents.
There are a number of co-housing schemes around the country: at the moment, none are LGBT-led. There are, however, a number of groups of lesbians who are setting up groups and looking at developments in Brighton and London.
Co-housing offers the potential for groups of older LGBT people to come together to form a community of good neighbours. Most include some communal living space and one expectation that residents will contribute to community life and look out for each other. Care or domiciliary services will be accessed in the usual way.
There are a number of ways to develop co-housing schemes. You don’t have to involve housing associations or public funding. There are examples of groups investing their resources together: others are groups of people who are all homeowners.
Co-housing is not cheap. Nor is it a quick solution. But it could be the right solution for many older LGBT people.
Shared housing is another, more affordable way for people to live together in a shared space. Typically, a shared house would include private bedrooms, and shared living spaces, like a shared living room, kitchen and bathroom.
One impact of the housing market shortage is that more people are looking at shared housing as an alternative to living alone or with a partner, for example younger people.
Shared housing might also be an option for older LGBT people, although there may be issues if people need domiciliary care or other services coming into the home.
Another option would be for a housing association to specialise in shared housing for older LGBT people: they can then provide the management and any additional social support that the residents require. This might be an attractive option for people with a history of insecure housing and isolation, who don’t have the experience of skills to manage their own home. Ideally this type of model would be developed with close links to a local LGBT project or community.