Housing In Brief: Philly Offers A Model For LGBT Senior Housing

Also, California approves competing housing bills.

(Photo courtesy of SAGE NYC, which advocates for LGBT senior housing nationwide)

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Philly Offers Example Of LGBT Senior Housing

By 2030, there are projected to be 7 million LGBT seniors in the U.S. They face more barriers to stable housing than their cis and straight peers. According to a 2020 study, 8% of transgender adults had reported being homeless in the prior year, compared with 3% of cisgender adults who were lesbian, gay or bisexual and 1% of adults who are cis and straight. LGBT seniors are statistically less likely to have children and more likely to rely on an informal network for caregiving later in age, despite the fact that many long term care laws still privilege biological families.

Despite these unique needs, there are only about 30 LGBT senior housing complexes across the country. (Because of fair housing laws, no housing can specifically exclude people for being cis or straight, so advocates often refer to these buildings as LGBT-affirming or LGBT-friendly.)

The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled one such complex, the John C. Anderson Apartments in the Center City neighborhood. The 56 unit building opened in 2014 and is income-restricted to adults 62 or older who make no more than $44,280 for a single adult. The building has a waitlist of 200 people, pointing to the outstanding need.

The building is run by SAGE, an New York City-based LGBT housing nonprofit which began an initiative in 2015 to advocate for more LGBT senior housing nationwide. More homes for LGBT seniors are cropping up – an affordable housing complex for low-income LGBT seniors in Sacramento debuted this summer. SAGE opened two buildings for LGBT seniors in New York City in 2019 and 2022, with a third of the units set aside for formerly homeless adults.

California Lawmakers Approve Competing Housing Bills

Two separate bills designed to fast-track residential construction on unused commercial land were approved by California’s legislature, the L.A. Times reports. A bill in the state assembly will allow new residential projects to bypass local review and will require at least 15% of units to be income-restricted. Though it eliminates otherwise mandatory environmental reviews, the bill requires developers to abide by stricter requirements on carbon output.

But that bill doesn’t require that developers use union labor, unlike a separate bill in the state senate which will require developers to use “skilled and trained” labor, which skews toward union employees. But the senate bill contains no affordability mandates.

The assembly bill was backed by the state’s Building and Construction Trades Council, according to CalMatters. The senate bill had the backing of affordable housing nonprofits. The bills were introduced separately and cater to these competing interests, but lawmakers now believe they can complement each other. Both will allow unused commercial corridors to be developed for residential use, an approach that can lead to opposition from lawmakers who prefer the higher property taxes from stores and office space, according to CBS News.

White House Releases More Details on New Housing Vouchers

The federal government released more information on $43 million worth of vouchers for people experiencing homelessness, including unsheltered homelessness, Bloomberg Citylab reports. The new “stability” vouchers will go towards permanent housing and are in addition to $322 million in grants to address homelessness announced in June.

The 4,000 stability vouchers will not come close to meeting the need – New York City alone has about 3,400 unsheltered people – and the funds will be split among people in shelters, people at-risk of homelessness and people attempting to flee domestic violence. Localities will not have to bid for the vouchers, which HUD will disburse to areas with the highest rates of homelessness and people at-risk of homelessness. HUD hopes the vouchers will incentivize greater cooperation between public housing authorities, victim service providers and continuums of care, local entities required by HUD to coordinate programs for people experiencing homelessness.

Recommended Reads

The Boston Globe reports on Providence, Rhode Island’s eviction defense program for low-income renters, funded through American Rescue Plan funds.

Fortune looks at a Milwaukee nonprofit buying up affordable housing and selling it at a discount to low-income people.

Jacobin has the story on Oakland tenants who went on a rent strike for years and convinced their landlord to sell their building to a community land trust.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: philadelphiacaliforniahousing for allhousing vouchers

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