Capping off LGBT History Month, the dmhFund and Pennrose Properties are scheduled to break ground on a new LGBT-friendly, low-income senior housing project (Oct. 29). Originally known as the “William Way Senior Residences,” the building’s official name will be unveiled at a special ceremony at 249 South 13th Street at noon on Monday. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will both be in attendance, along with many other LGBT leaders from the past decades.
The project, which is expected to be completed sometime next year, was spearheaded by dmhFund President Mark Segal. “I’ve observed the challenging journeys of so many other LGBT senior housing developments,” he says, “and I knew the key to our success would have to be taking a different approach to funding by focusing outside the LGBT community, and going after the same money available to other communities for their low-income seniors.”
Financing for the $19.5 million project was provided through a Philadelphia HOME grant, Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Pennrose Properties is overseeing the project.
“It’s heartening to know that local, state and federal officials from both sides of the aisle are understanding and supportive of our efforts to help our aging community members live out their golden years in comfort and dignity, without being forced back into the closet,” says Segal. “With our numbers only continuing to rise, now is the perfect time.”
In 2005, the Mid-America Institute on Poverty found a demand for LGBT retirement communities, with nearly 65 percent of participants saying they would be interested in living in affordable rental housing that’s LGBT-friendly.
This six-story residence will feature 56 one-bedroom units – each with windows. The Energy Star 3.0 building will also feature a vegetated green roof and solar thermal hot water system, as well as a 5,000 square-foot courtyard, which will include raised beds for gardening. Along with multi-purpose public spaces, there are also plans for nearly 2,000 square feet of rentable ground floor retail space along 13th Street.
Information on how to apply for a unit will be available on the dmhFund’s website early next year.