Florida plans to build first affordable housing project for elderly LGBTQ residents

By : Melanie Ararat
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South Florida plans to follow the lead of Los Angeles and Chicago by building the state’s first affordable housing project for elderly LGBTQ residents in Wilton Manors, Fla.

South Florida is a popular settlement for retirees—both LGBTQ and straight—but the myth of LGBTQ couples being wealthy and leading lavish lifestyles isn’t backed up by the numbers, experts say.“We’ve noticed a growing number of gay seniors who are struggling financially, and are looking for affordable housing solutions,” said Bruce Williams, a coordinator at The Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, to Reuters.

The Pride Center—a nonprofit organization in South Florida which provides a welcoming, safe space for the LGBTQ community—is behind the new housing project. As Florida’s most famous “gayborhood,” Wilton Manors is the natural choice for the first LGBTQ affordable housing project, said The Pride Center’s Chief Operating Officer Kristofer Fegenbush.

The Residences will be a four-story apartment building with 48 units, 34 of which will be designed for seniors living with disabilities. “What we have accomplished is truly unique,” Fegenbush said. “A building with 48 units that are all affordable, supported by services that are specifically tailored to LGBT seniors who will be able to live independently.”

According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. will have more seniors aged 65 and over—which makes up 78 million people—than minors under the age of 18 by the year 2035. The Census Bureau also predicts that the number of LGBTQ adults over the age of 50 will more than double to seven million by 2030, up from three million present day.

Discrimination was another factor that led to the decision to build the Wilton Manor housing project. According to SAGE, the country’s largest advocacy group for elderly

LGBTQ people, older members of the community often face discrimination when looking for a home.

LGBTQ elders are twice as likely to be single and live alone and four times less likely to have children, which increases financial strain.

Developers nationwide are partnering with approximately 10 LGBTQ community centers across the country to construct LGBTQ-friendly, affordable housing projects, according to Kent. He said that the projects will be partly funded by low-income housing tax credits.

Along with affordable LGBTQ housing, SAGE is instituting training programs for mainstream retirement communities on being more sensitive to the needs of the LGBTQ people in their facilities.

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