The Mayor of London says he hopes the community will be the first of many, while kiwi academic asks, “when NZ will get the same?”
The United Kingdom has opened its first ‘LGBTQ-affirmative’ retirement facility.
Located in the historically gay-friendly London suburb of Vauxhall, Tonic@Bankhouse looks over the River Thames with 19 apartments built and ready for residents to move into in the coming weeks.
The CEO of Tonic Housing Anna Kear said the project is “100% affordable housing”
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he hoped the development would be the first of many. The project was funded in part with a £5.7m loan from the Mayor’s Community Housing Fund.
“What I find hard to believe is, that in 2021, this is the first LGBT+ retirement community [in the UK].” Mayor Khan said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I’m hoping this project is a massive, massive success and I’m hoping, not just other parts of London, but other parts of the country have LGBT+ retirement communities,” Khan said.
“Because it’s really important, particularly for some people – and let’s be frank, and I don’t want to sound morbid – but this could be their last home before they pass away. They can live in dignity.”
CEO of Tonic Housing Anna Kear told Attitude the project is about “history, the people who fought for our rights”, pointing to those “on those first pride marches” who are now in their 70s or older.
“We know from the people who have gotten involved in Tonic who are on their own – they were ostracised by their families; they didn’t have children because that’s not what you were allowed to do back then.”
While progress has been made for LGBTQ rights, navigating retirement living was still a challenge for many, which this project aims to ease.
“These are people that I know and care about, on their own navigating a housing and care system that is not friendly,” Kear said.
There a calls for a similar community to be founded in NZ. Activist Michael Stevens tells express, “we rightly spend a lot of time and energy worrying about our youth, but we need to think about our communities as we age as well.”