By PATRICK WALTERS, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Developers plan to break ground next month on a $20 million affordable housing project for elderly gays now that it has received the necessary state, federal and local approvals and funding has been secured, officials said Thursday.
The project, planned for a section of Philadelphia’s downtown affectionately known as the Gayborhood, had long been stalled before receiving tax credits earlier this year from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
The Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, which is spearheading the project, said in a statement that the project has received all federal, state, and local agency approvals and building permits, and plans to break ground in late October. Wells Fargo Bank also has signed on as an investor, tax credits have been allocated and all funding for the project has been secured, the group said.
The new six-story building, which will be on land bought from the city’s Redevelopment Authority, will include 56 one-bedroom units that will be available to seniors who are 62 and over.
“The project is moving forward very quickly,” Mark Segal, the group’s director and also publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, said in a statement. “The Redevelopment Authority vacated the building they were operating out of on the construction site, and clean up and plans for demolition of the building have begun.”
Anti-discrimination laws prohibit gay-only housing, but projects can be made friendly toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people through marketing and location. The nation’s first gay-friendly affordable senior housing facility opened in Los Angeles in 2007.
Experts say the need for such housing is great since many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors fear discrimination or disrespect by health care workers and elder housing residents.