Wrapped in an enormous rainbow-colored ribbon, John C. Anderson Apartments, a low-income housing project specifically targeted to LGBT seniors, officially opened in Philadelphia on February 24. The first LGBT-friendly senior apartment community in Pennsylvania—and the largest of only three (so far) in the entire United States—was the brainchild of Mark Segal, a long-time gay-rights advocate and president of The Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund (dmhFund), which supports programs that address LGBT concerns. To develop the project, dmhFund partnered with Pennrose Properties, which specializes in affordable housing development primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region.
John C. Anderson, for whom the project is named, was an openly gay city councilman who lost his life to AIDS in 1983 at the age of 41.
The six-story building is located in the heart of Philly’s historic and increasingly upscale “Gayborhood,” a welcoming area for the LGBT community and, therefore, a particularly safe environment for LGBT seniors. The 56 rental apartments are each designed with an open floor plan, oversized windows overlooking S. 13th Street, a fully equipped kitchen, and separate bedroom. Residents have access to a community room and roof deck for entertaining and activities and to a 5,000 square foot enclosed courtyard for gardening and just relaxing in what is otherwise an urban setting. The Energy Star 3.0 building features a “green” roof and solar-heated hot water system.
Funding for the $19.5 million project was secured through a Philadelphia HOME Loan, $6 million from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, $11.5 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity, and a construction loan provided by Wells Fargo. Six units are reserved for those with extremely low income ($11,100-$12,680); 23 units, for those with very low income ($27,750-$31,700); and 27 units, for those with low income ($33,300-$38,040). Monthly rents range from $105 to $891, depending on income level. Residents must be 62 years or older. And while the apartments are open to any eligible senior, it’s expected that most residents will be members of the LGBT community.