These LGBTQ Seniors Built Their Own Place to Retire

Village Hearth in North Carolina is one example of LGBTQ seniors innovating ways of creating truly inclusive housing.

At the groundbreaking (Courtesy Pat McAulay)

When LGBTQ Americans face retirement, many choose to go back in the closet rather than risk their safety in elder housing. New housing options are making it possible for them to live authentically.

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Sydney Kopp-Richardson, director of the National LGBTQ+ Elder Housing Initiative at SAGE, about why aging queer Americans face a quickening health decline when there isn’t enough housing that is affordable and inclusive. 

We also meet Pat McAulay and her wife Margaret Roesch, a couple that dreamed of a place where seniors could support each other while growing older. That dream became Village Hearth, a co-housing development for LGBTQ seniors in Durham, North Carolina. 

With so many co-housing developments prone to failure to launch, what’s their advice? “Hire a professional,” says McAulay, for everything from real estate development and finance to the “soft side” of managing co-housing.

Next City has followed Village Hearth since the project secured a construction loan in 2019, then while the community persevered through the pandemic, and today when every home is filled.

“When each person was ready to move into their house,” remembers Roesch, “they got a welcome basket that had a bottle of champagne or non-alcoholic champagne and other little goodies. We did a toast around each person's celebration of moving in — except that we did them all outside on the porches, on the sidewalks.”

Listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods.

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