A Home of Our Own

By Neal Broverman

Originally published on Advocate.com May 22 2013 3:00 AM ET

With LGBT seniors facing increased risks of poverty and poor health as well as a higher likelihood of living alone, the need for housing designed to their needs is dire. Cities including Los Angeles and Chicago are responding by building developments specifically geared to LGBT seniors, and now Philadelphia is joining the party, reaching out to several different entities to get its project built.

The six-story, 56-unit John C. Anderson Apartments is now rising in the heart of Philly’s gay village, with hopes of opening at the end of the year. Mayor Michael Nutter, along with Mark Segal — the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News and founder of Gay Youth, one of the nation’s first organizations for LGBT teens — championed the $19.5 million project.

“I’ve observed the challenging journeys of so many other LGBT senior housing developments,” Segal says, “and knew the key to our success would 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.”

The project was envisioned eight years ago but only started making progress three years ago, when a mix of city, state, and federal money came together. Philadelphia’s funding model is similar to that of Los Angeles’s Triangle Square development, an LGBT senior complex in Hollywood that acquired money from L.A., California, and Uncle Sam before opening in 2007. The Philadelphia project, geared to low-income seniors, also received low-income housing tax credits.

At the recent groundbreaking in Philly, Segal told the local media, “I, right now, am the happiest I probably ever will be in my life.… Today made me feel like a proud Philadelphian.”