Mark Segal

The Need for LGBT-Friendly Senior Housing

Filed By Mark Segal | May 09, 2013 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: baby boomers, LGBT-friendly housing, senior housing, veterans

After a meeting with Philadelphia's Silver Foxes last weekend, a disabled, homeless, trans Vietnam vet came over to me and asked tearfully if there'd be a place for him at the John C. Anderson LGBT-friendly apartments when the facility opens early next year. I could only utter, "I certainly hope so."

gay_hospital_visitation.jpgWhen you're working on a $19.5-million building project that requires city, state and federal oversight and the involvement of numerous agencies in each of those governmental bodies, you sometimes lose sight of the people who have the need for this project.

Thankfully the Silver Foxes group realized their members, many of whom might qualify, should hear from the organizers how the project is going and learn about the requirements.

It was also a chance for me to get in touch with those who comprise the community that needs affordable senior living.

My day-to-day work on this project has me dealing with lawyers, public-relations people, various boards of directors, general contractors, our partners ... but very few, if any, of the people who will be our residents. Sunday gave me that opportunity, as well as that feeling in my gut about why we're doing this. Put simply, the need is there.

Of the approximately 45 people present, when I asked how many will apply for residency, 16 hands went in the air. The potential applicants include a couple who has been together for 36 years, a woman who had been married for 33 years and, after divorce, found herself homeless, and a man who can hardly walk but lives in a five-story walk-up, far from his community. There were also two women who have given their lives to help those in hospice care but, in their senior years, have no place to live together and get the dignity they gave to others.

So, I gave them all the good news: construction is on time, interiors are on time and, in fact, most of the project is running on time or better. I answered most of the questions and then it was time to leave. As I left, the trans vet came up to me and said, "I've been to war for this country and, as a transperson, I've continued to be at war. Will this building now allow me to be at peace in my own community?" I lost it.

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