By Jessica Fiur, News Editor
Philadelphia—In a landmark decision for Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency voted to provide a reservation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which will generate up to $11 million for the first LGBT-friendly affordable senior housing facility in the state. This funding will allow the $19 million community, co-developed by dmhFund and Pennrose Properties, to move forward and break ground later this year.
“We’re very happy that we’ve been able to work with the city, state and federal governments in creating what we hope will be an innovative project that will help create affordable living facility for LGBT and their friends, Mark Segal, president, dmhFund, tells MHN. “This is a community that we hope will be non-discriminatory and welcoming to everyone. The important thing, of course, is that [this housing] is welcoming to LGBT people since, basically, there are [no other housing for this community] at this point.”
The building, which will be six stories and include 56 one-bedroom units, will be available to seniors aged 62 and over who earn less than 60 percent of the Philadelphia neighborhood. Jacob Fisher, senior developer, Pennrose, tells MHN that the building will also include 2,500 square feet of retail space.
“There will be a community room, common laundry facilities and a common patio that will be private to residents,” Fisher says.
Additionally, the building will be environmentally conscious.
“The building will be built to Energy Star standards,” Fisher says. “We’re considering other green elements. We’re actually working on the feasibility of doing solar thermal heating for hot water.”
This development is the first affordable housing home for the LGBT community in Philadelphia.
“In this area, since there are no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination, a gay person might be in a boarding home, a gay person might be in a similar affordable living place, and the owners of that place, once finding out the person is gay, if they have a reason not to like gay people, can ask them to leave,” Segal says. “And that is legal at the moment.”
The community will be open to everyone; however, this development represents a safe haven for those in the LGBT community.
“Pennrose properties is very excited to be part of the project, which is pretty unique in the country in that it’s only the second development in its kind, anywhere,” Fisher says. “The building is LGBT friendly. It’s a building that’s open to all, but it’s in a neighborhood that is the historic home to the gay community in the city of Philadelphia.”
Segal also stresses the importance of the new senior housing development.
“People want to be a part of their own community, and thus far there are no homes like that for the LGBT community,” he says. “While there will be LGBT people living there, there will be other people who are not LGBT living there, but the atmosphere will be very welcoming to LGBT people there.”