Ed Note: The following is a cross-post that originally appeared on the Department of Housing and Urban Development blog.
Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is proud to spotlight a new Philadelphia housing development recognized as a pioneering innovation in U.S. housing solutions for low-income LGBT seniors.
A new public-private housing initiative, co-developed by the dmhFund and Pennrose Properties and spearheaded by dmhFund President Mark Segal, has secured $11 million in tax credit financing from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) – making it possible to break ground on a six-story, 56 bedroom, $19 million project, intended to house LGBT seniors aged 62 and over who earn less than 60 percent of the Philadelphia median income.
On Thursday, April 12, the PHFA voted to provide a reservation of low income housing tax credits for the housing initiative conceived in the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. And, today the initiative’s sponsors announced tax credit details and plans for the new building to be located on Philadelphia’s 13th Street, between Locust and Spruce, on land to be purchased by the developers from Philadelphia’s Redevelopment Authority. A range of advocates, including Philadelphia’s Democratic and Republican elected officials, the local LGBT community, the region’s senior citizen organizations, labor unions and community groups, including the NAACP, coalesced around the housing initiative to bring it to fruition.
The Obama Administration has taken decisive actions and made historic strides to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, and strengthen LGBT families and communities. Under this Administration, HUD has been a leader in advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, and has treated the fight for equality not as an issue, but as a priority.
HUD not only supports and commends these transformative efforts, but encourages equal access to housing for all and has taken bold steps to ensure that HUD’s housing programs are accessible to all Americans.
In a major step forward for LGBT rights, HUD recently enacted a rule to ensure equal LGBT housing access, including clarification that the term “family,” defining persons eligible for HUD-funded programs, as eligible regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In January, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the new rule. And, in March the rule was finalized and published in the Federal Register.
Additionally, HUD is currently conducting the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in rental housing. HUD requires discretionary fund recipients to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In, 2011 HUD issued new guidance that treats discrimination based on gender nonconformity or sex stereotyping as sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and instructs department staff to inform individuals filing complaints about state and local agencies that have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws. And at the end of last year, HUD, HHS’s Administration on Aging, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) hosted the first ever national convening addressing issues for LGBT seniors.
Successes like the Philadelphia’s LGBT senior housing initiative demonstrates that purposeful, collaborative, pointed action not only impacts communities, but changes lives. And HUD will continue to take an active role in ensuring that that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community not only has a seat at the table – but also a place to call home.