LGBT housing futures: a feasibility study

New housing schemes

During the study, we learnt a number of issues about new housing schemes:

  1. Older LGBT people want good quality, well designed housing, with access to care and support if it’s required. Unlike other older people, though, there is often a stronger emphasis on housing as part of community building, along with the importance of access to shared space for socialising and events, and links with local LGBT groups or communities.
  2. If a housing association or private developer wanted to develop a specialist older LGBT housing scheme, it’ll probably be as part of an larger development, for example, in a retirement village or downsizing scheme. This would enable LGBT residents to have the support of their own community, whilst blending into the wider community.
  3. Issues of security and safety are paramount. The location and design of any new scheme has to be accessible and welcoming, as well as safe and secure for tenants.
  4. When planning a scheme, developers should consider the location: ideally new schemes should be located close to other LGBT community and social facilities.
  5. New schemes should offer a range of tenures, including leasehold and rental. Although there can be tensions between owners and renters in some smaller mixed tenure schemes, our research highlighted that the shared common interests would overcome these divisions of tenure.
  6. Numerous research reports have highlighted the potential for leasehold products – mostly flats – for the older LGBT community. They should be a key component of any scheme provided for the older LBT community.
  7. Similarly, older LGBT housing schemes would benefit from innovative forms of housing, such as prefabricated housing. These are more flexible schemes that can be adapted to meet the requirements of different residents. See, for example, the Y:Cube scheme.
  8. Co-design is critical: older LGBT people would want to be involved in the development and design from an early stage of any potential housing scheme. They are also interested in exploring ways of retaining control over the management and ongoing delivery of a housing scheme.
  9. For local authorities, the allocation of new rental accommodation to older LGBT people from outside the area can be concerning, as it might result in increased pressures on support and care.
  10. As with other older people, affordability is an issue, both with regards to housing and to care costs.


  1. Ju Gosling

    I would prefer to live in a mixed-age community*, but I would like to live in LGBT-specific housing. I would happily sell my home tomorrow if an accessible LGBT shared-ownership scheme became available – by which I mean accessible in terms of Housing Benefit levels for the rental element as well as accessible to me as a disabled person.
I would like to see LGBT-specific pilot schemes in Manchester, Brighton and London as well as rural schemes in Wales and Yorkshire. What I don’t think would work would be simply to buy a housing scheme from developers rather than designing schemes that meet the needs for community contact, pet ownership etc.
*I don’t think my generation like to be segregated, and one of the main reasons I would like to live in LGBT-specific housing is the fact that I have no children and no biological family contact. A community composed entirely of the over-50s is more like an institution and less like a family.

  2. Bob Green

    When Stonewall Housing launched the feasibility study, we received comments from LGBT people via social media about the plan to develop housing for older LGBT people specifically. Their views are thought provoking and challenging. One person shared the following:
“no no no!!! As a gay man myself, creating what I describe as a retirement gay Ghetto is NOT the way forward!!! Integration is the key and as many of us get older I would want to, if I ever needed to, end my days in a home where all sections of society live!!!!!”
Some LGBT people have expressed similar views in previous research. However, others have said that they would like to live in spaces that are LGBT-affirmative. I think the drive should be offer better choices for older LGBT people. On my travels to LGBT-friendly schemes in the United States, it was exciting to see LGBT communities develop affordable housing for not only their communities but for all communities who wanted to live in a space that prioritised meeting the needs of LGBT people.
    Stonewall Housing currently provides shared and supported accommodation for younger LGBT people. If an older LGBT person calls us to ask where is the nearest scheme specifically for older LGBT people, we still need to say Berlin, Sweden, other parts of Europe or the US and nothing in the UK.

  3. Jude Millett

    Leasehold models tend to work for the south rather than the north. If HCA funding is to be sought to develop an LGBT older peoples scheme a mix of shared ownership and affordable homes would better meet recently published funding criteria.
In relation to evidence for need, certainly in Manchester we’d need to look at recent research and consultation with the LGBT community and carry out targetted consultation with age 50plus LGBT age group.

    • Andrew van Doorn

      Leasehold models can and do work everywhere and are for people who are home owners rather than renters. The retirement housing models being delivered by the private sector and increasingly by housing associations (including shared ownership) are important and for some desirable housing options for older people. Also downsizer products often take this shape, including those designed as equity release products.
With older people much more likely than younger people to be existing homeowners, leasehold products (mostly flats) are an important part of the mix and need to be a key part of the consideration of meeting future LGBT housing need.
There are also some interesting examples of where leaseholders have combined to exercise their leasehold management rights in retirement housing, thus creating a form of mutual housing. This has often happened by default rather than by design but I wonder what a designed process might result in?

    • Jude Watson

      I’m part of setting up the London older lesbian cohousing community and these are issues we need to explore. So far we have lesbians interested in buying or renting – my current property is leasehold so I would have thought it could be great to have central freeholders that could lease – turnover would be likely to be quicker.

  4. Andrew van Doorn

    Including a small LGBT scheme as part of a larger housing development is probably the only way that this will happen at scale so must be explored!

    • Jude Watson

      Yes but I’d want a lesbian section within it.

  5. Jude Watson

    How do you achieve a scheme that is both visible and welcoming in the community as well as safe and secure for tenants and other users?

    It would be good to include local community members with any lgbt project – or if not possible – then to consult them, involve them, invite them socially to build relationships. Set up straight allies in the community that will support lgbt communities

  6. Jude Watson

    When it comes to location, I want to live in or near London so would probably only consider being within an hour if London.

  7. Steve Dallaway

    I am a gay man and I lead on the new housing development programme at Birmingham City Council. Id like to stay in touch so that I can try to influence any LGBT developments for older people.


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