A long-anticipated affordable housing complex for gay and lesbian seniors in Center City Philadelphia is moving forward.
Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News and the driving force behind the development, has been working on this particular incarnation of his plan for three years.
He said affordable housing is especially important for homosexual and bisexual seniors because there is no anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation.
“Let’s say you’re living in a boarding house somewhere and they find out you’re gay, and they decide they don’t think you’re a good mix for their community,” Segal said. “They…can ask you to leave.”
Segal said the development could also help seniors who never came out of the closet due to fear of discrimination.
“Some of those people will probably move here, and for the first time be embraced by their community,” Segal said. “That will be a very liberating experience for them.”
The official announcement comes the week after the project secured an $11 million Pennsylvania tax credit.
The 56-unit building at 13th and Locust Streets will include common spaces where nonprofits can provide medical care and other social services.
Segal hopes to break ground on the building this fall.
Serena Worthington, director of community advocacy with SAGE, a senior LGBT advocacy group, said affordable options are especially important for gay and lesbian seniors because they are more likely to have financial problems than the general population.
“I think it’s a fantastic and much-needed option,” Worthington said. “I think there’s a lot of anticipation of these projects and I think it’ll be really interesting to see how quickly they fill up.”
Washington said the development would be one of the first in the nation. An LGBT affordable housing complex is already up and running in Los Angeles, and work on projects in Chicago, San Francisco and Minneapolis is under way.