Residents move into Palm Springs LGBTQ senior community

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 29, 2023
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Living Out marketing officer LuAnn Boylan, left, joined Living Out co-developer Loren S. Ostrow, and new resident Richard Alther to admire one of Alther's paintings he donated to the senior living complex. Photo: Courtesy Living Out
Living Out marketing officer LuAnn Boylan, left, joined Living Out co-developer Loren S. Ostrow, and new resident Richard Alther to admire one of Alther's paintings he donated to the senior living complex. Photo: Courtesy Living Out

In early November Richard Alther moved into his new apartment at Living Out, a luxury rental community in Palm Springs targeted at active LGBTQ+ seniors age 55 and older. A gay man who paints and has authored five novels, Alther was among the first residents to do so.

"I haven't met a lot of residents yet. But, of course, I am looking forward to that," Alther, 83, told the Bay Area Reporter during a phone interview a week into his new living situation.

A former Masters swimmer competitor who continues to swim recreationally, he was looking forward to the opening of the on-site pool that is 80 feet in length, long enough for him to do his laps.

"I am about to do my workouts in my backyard," said Alther. "I told Paul and Loren, 'Oh my god, this is worth the price of admission.'"

He was referring to Paul R. Alanis, a straight ally and developer, and Loren S. Ostrow, a gay Los Angeles resident, who partnered years ago to turn Ostrow's vision for a welcoming retirement community for LGBTQ seniors into a reality. They eventually acquired a nine-acre site on East Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs and broke ground on the project on November 5, 2021.

"This is something I have been dreaming of and thinking of for at least 25 years," said Ostrow, 72, who serves on the board of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

While a grand-opening event is being planned for mid-January, a smaller ceremony will be held December 6 to mark that residents have started to move onto the property and the opening that day of onsite restaurant Alice B. from lesbian award-winning chef Susan Feniger and her longtime business partner, Mary Sue Milliken.

"I will tell you the response from the first residents has been unbelievable," said marketing officer LuAnn Boylan, 76, a lesbian who lives with her spouse in Los Angeles. "The sense of community here has already developed even with just the few we have moved in. People came here because they want a community."

Boylan is also on the board of the L.A. center and has served alongside Ostrow on it since 1993. They spoke with the B.A.R. during a joint phone interview ahead of the opening ceremonies for Living Out. Already, a sense of belonging is developing among the tenants who have already moved into their apartments, Boylan said.

"There is a strong sense for the people who have moved in this is home for them. They can make new friends, cement the relationships they already have, and be in a space that is beautiful, comfortable, inclusive, and allows them to be who they are," said Boylan. "At least once a week when I am on property, tenants will stop me to say, 'This is the best decision we made for ourselves.' We are feeling really great about the fact they are experiencing it in the way we have hoped they would."

Living Out consists of 122 units in a Y-shaped building, which as of last month was 50% pre-leased. The apartments are a mix of one and two bedrooms, with one-year leases ranging from $4,999 to $8,300 depending on size and location. (Two- and three-year leases can be negotiated.)

Included in the rental price are utilities, a cleaning service, continental breakfast, and the resort amenities. For residents, it can be a significant cost-savings since they no longer need to buy home insurance, cover maintenance costs, and pay property taxes, noted Boylan.

"A large percentage of folks moving here are downsizing from private homes," she said.

It is expected that the apartments will be fully leased by the spring, with upward of 200 people calling Living Out home. When the B.A.R. spoke with Ostrow, he said he had been so busy that the fact the first residents were now onsite had yet to fully sink in for him.

"It's a pretty wonderful feeling to see people living in a way I was hoping they were going to be living," he said.

A dining area staged in a Living Out apartment. Photo: Courtesy Living Out  

Part of a growing trend
While Living Out is the first market-rate housing of its kind for LGBTQ seniors in Palm Springs, it is part of a growing trend in senior housing, noted Ostrow. Such developments are being marketed to a certain segment of the senior population, whether based on their being part of a specific community or having similar interests.

"What you are seeing across the country now is affinity group housing, particularly in senior housing, having like-minded people come together, be it they love Disney or be it Jimmy Buffet, or have a certain proclivity or certain religion," said Ostrow, referring to the Cotino housing development The Walt Disney Company is building nearby in Rancho Mirage and to the 55+ community across the country in South Carolina called Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head based on the lifestyle espoused by the late singer. "These communities have been around, although not in the numbers of communities now being developed."

As people age in place at Living Out, they are allowed to have in-home caretakers should they encounter health issues that require some assistance. But, only to a certain point.

"We are clear in the lease that we don't provide medical care or assisted-living services. You can have a caregiver come in," explained Boylan. "When residents have reached the point where they are not able to care for themselves without a higher level of care, we will work with them to find them another placement."

Providing such services under the Living Out banner is something Ostrow has thought about as his next venture. Should he do so, he said he isn't sure he would locate such a facility in Palm Springs.

"People have asked us that question, what happens to me when I need assistance or need memory care? That is when, frankly, our community is the most vulnerable," he said.

He does want to see the Living Out residential communities expand to other areas of the country. Their designs could be modified to meet their locations, such as having a more urban feeling in a city versus the resort atmosphere of the Palm Springs location.

"This is a concept that translates to wherever there is a significant gay community," said Ostrow. "I feel there needs to be a strong LGBTQ community surrounding Living Out. But there are a lot of places where this would work, and I would like to do it."

With the ranks of LGBTQ seniors expected to grow in coming decades, along with the rest of the American populace, the need for welcoming residential developments to house them is so great that Ostrow said he welcomes having competition from others in the market.

"If I could find a piece of land in San Francisco, or a property I could convert, I would love to be in San Francisco. I would love to be in San Diego and Long Beach," said Ostrow. "There are so many places in California, and up and down the West Coast, I would love to be in. Frankly, I would love to be in Dallas; there is a big, strong LGBTQ community in Dallas."

Living Out in Palm Springs contains 122 apartments. Photo: Courtesy Living Out  

The inaugural residents at Living Out will not include Boylan, since her wife surfs and wants to remain near the coast. Nor does Ostrow have plans to move there, as his husband isn't ready to leave Los Angeles for the desert enclave.

"He is kind of a loner. This is a very communal experience for people seeking that," said Ostrow.

It is what drew Alther's interest in moving there. Four years ago he lost his husband of 20 years, Ray Repp, a singer and songwriter who introduced folk music into Catholic masses. They had split their time between the home Alther had earlier purchased on Lake Champlain in Vermont and the home they had bought a year into their marriage in a gated Palm Springs community.

Shortly after Repp's passing, Alther read about Living Out in a local Palm Springs newspaper.

"I immediately was attracted to the idea," said Alther, who sold the couple's Palm Springs house last April. "Three seasons without my husband was too isolating."

He returned to New England for the summer season until his new apartment at Living Out was ready to inhabit. While he is renting it year round, Alther plans to use it from October through May when temperatures in the Coachella Valley are the coolest.

Alther purposefully asked for a unit with mountain views, similar to what he and Repp had enjoyed at their house. But it isn't what sold him on becoming a resident at Living Out.

"I am here for the community," said Alther, who donated six of his paintings to the development to adorn its walls, with one hung in the lobby.

In addition to being able to utilize, and socialize by, the pool, Alther told the B.A.R. he was also eagerly awaiting the opening of the Alice B. eatery.

"The pool is to open next week and I plan to start hanging out there," he had said last month. "The restaurant is opening December 6, and I told everybody my new lifestyle is I ain't cooking. I will be having people for drinks and nibbles then we can go downstairs for dinner. I can't wait."

To learn more about Living Out, visit its website at

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