Tonic Housing secure loan to open first LGBTQ+ retirement community

In 2021, Tonic Housing will be opening the UK's first retirement community for LGBTQ+ people to enjoy their later years at Bankhouse.


Tonic Housing have secured a £5.7 million loan to open the UK’s first LGBTQ+ affirming retirement community. 

As part of a groundbreaking initiative celebrating and caring for LGBTQ+ people later in life, Tonic are providing the UK’s first queer affirmative housing project. After receiving a £5.7 million loan from the Mayor of London, they are ready to open the doors of 19 properties at Bankhouse in late 2021. 

Architect Norman Foster designed Bankhouse with an on-site restaurant, community spaces, a floating garden, one and two-bedroom homes, and so much more. Elderly LGBTQ+ people are also promised events and activities on site, which will be created based on resident’s interests and collaborations with other queer organisations and support providers. 

Celebrating the launch of the retirement community, titled Tonic@Bankhouse, CEO of Tonic Housing Anna Kear said, “We are making history today, realising a long held dream to provide a safe place for older LGBT+ people to live well, in a community where they can be themselves and enjoy their later life.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed the initiative, “Older Londoners deserve to be able to enjoy their later years in comfort and security, surrounded by a thriving, supportive community. I look forward to seeing this realised at Bankhouse and to supporting Tonic’s work to establish further LGBTQ+ affirming developments in the years to come.”

Kear further spoke on how Tonic@Bankhouse was an important milestone in Tonic’s evolution, looking ahead at developing future retirement communities for LGBTQ+ people. She also credited One Housing in helping to shape the care services provided by the scheme. 

Speaking about Tonic@Bankhouse’s opening in late 2021, Chief executive of One Housing Richard Hill expressed, “We look forward to welcoming new LGBT+ customers to Bankhouse where they’ll be able to enjoy all the advantages of independent living with on-site care and support when they need it.”

Across social media, the LGBTQ+ community are celebrating this new initiative, with many already eyeing up an early retirement place. Comedian James Barr shared, “Are they taking bookings yet? This gay is exhausted.”

LGBTQ+ history project Queer Kernow wrote, “This is fantastic news and much needed for our community.”

Over on A Gay and A NonGay podcast Twitter page, they wrote, “LGBTQ+ people who might otherwise feel like they need to go back into the closet when they reach retirement age, now have a safe place to go.”

Another comment on Twitter shared, “I hope this becomes more common. A bunch of 80-year-olds talking about their favourite drag queens, rewatching old episodes of Queer Eye.”

One person wrote, “The year is 2064. You’re sat watching Aquaria’s Drag Race season 41 with your best huns. Life is good.”

While the initiative has largely been met by celebration, many are voicing concerns over the price of this service, calling for further development around affordable housing schemes. One person said, “A welcome step, but this is only inclusive and safe, if you can afford it. Considering the prejudices of the past, and the many life chances held back, we need to see this type of housing for the elderly in social housing too.”

In another comment, a person shared, “I think this is just a start; Most queer elders cannot afford bespoke care, so a systematic change needs to happen. But just the idea that people are awake to this is huge.”

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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