San Diego City Council and Housing Commission support gives Community HousingWorks green light to build groundbreaking development
SAN DIEGO, CA — December 8, 2015 —The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to help finance what will be the city’s first LGBT-affirming senior community, a groundbreaking development proposed by Community HousingWorks.
“There is a tremendous need for this community, which is going to serve as a model for future senior communities that will provide welcoming homes and support for LGBT pioneers,” said Sue Reynolds, President and CEO of Community HousingWorks. “This transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly location in North Park means these seniors will be living in a cutting-edge infill development, close to shopping, the new Bus Rapid Transit, medical centers and opposite a proposed 118-unit market rate apartment complex.”
Delores Jacobs, CEO of San Diego LGBT Community Center, said: “The people who will live here paved the way for younger LGBT generations, and many of them are forced back into the closet in traditional senior communities because of a lack of acceptance. We owe this new community and more to San Diego’s LGBT seniors.”
Community HousingWorks (CHW) plans to build the 76-unit affordable housing community at Texas St. and Howard Ave. in North Park. The community will be open to all seniors, but CHW intends to create an environment welcoming LGBT seniors who have challenges finding LGBT-affirming housing.
“Anti-LGBT attitudes are still common among people over 50, with just 50 percent of baby boomers saying they think homosexuality should be accepted by society. Among Generation X, the number was 63 percent, and among millennials it was 71 percent,” according to a Pew Research poll quoted in a 2013 Washington Post story called, ‘Gay men, lesbians struggle to find caregivers and old-age facilities that don’t discriminate.’
CHW would develop the new community and partner with the San Diego LGBT Community Center to provide onsite supportive services. CHW is a non-profit San Diego-based developer that builds, revitalizes and operates affordable housing communities.
The City of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission are providing $7 million for the $27 million apartment complex, which is expected to take about 18 months to build. CHW wishes to thank the Council and the Housing Commission for their hard work, support and vision.
“This project is a first step. Our goal must be that all senior housing options become open and affirming,” said San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria. “LGBT seniors should have the same opportunity to find apartment homes in communities with onsite supportive services.”
Many seniors in San Diego face housing challenges, but LGBT seniors are especially vulnerable.
The San Diego LGBT Community Center recently completed a study called “LGBT San Diego’s Trailblazing Generation” to examine housing and related needs of LGBT seniors.
The study found that 68 percent of the LGBT seniors had neither family nor younger friends they could count on for support or assistance as they age, and were more likely to live alone and not be in a significant relationship.
Further, 23 percent of the LGBT seniors responding to the survey reported an annual income of less than $20,000 per year. Only 16 percent reported having $100,000 or more saved for retirement.
These trailblazers are often forced back into the closet during their golden years when they move into apartments or assisted living facilities that may not be open and affirming. Many can’t turn to family members for support. They came out during a period of little acceptance. They lost jobs, careers and family members.
Despite the need, only a handful of LGBT-affirming senior housing developments exist in the U.S. Once the North Park community is built, San Diego would join Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco as a leader in this groundbreaking housing arena.
“Many people are going to benefit from relief from isolation, depression, and anxiety and find that moments in their last days can be full of compassion and warmth,” said local LGBT senior Robert Bettinger, 87. “I’m happy for the many people who will go forward in hope, safety, and comfort.”
Community HousingWorks (CHW) is a nationally-recognized non-profit organization that helps people living on low wages and fixed incomes move up in the world, in San Diego and across California, by building and owning stable affordable apartment homes and providing onsite services and opportunities for residents to achieve their dreams. CHW has nearly 30 years of success developing new and renovating existing multi-family, affordable rental apartments in urban, suburban and rural communities. With nearly 2,500 rental apartments in 34 communities statewide, CHW proudly serves more than 7,000 children and adults each year. CHW and our strategic partners deliver onsite programs to give residents the knowledge, tools, and hope to achieve their goals and dreams. As a result, many adult residents are able to get out of debt, improve their credit, and start a practice of saving for the future; and youth have a safe place to learn and grow, improve reading skills, and succeed in school. CHW is an exemplary-ranked member of the national NeighborWorks Network®, an award-winning affiliate of the National Council of La Raza, and member of the prestigious Housing Partnership Network.
Tony Manolatos, Apex Strategies: Tony@apexstrat.com | 619.549.0137