San Francisco LGBT Seniors Affordable Housing Project Gets $6.1 Million Grant

A substantial city grant could mean a different future for low-income LGBT seniors in San Francisco.

According to the Examiner, the city announced a $6.1 million commitment to an effort to convert an empty lot at 55 Laguna Street into 110 affordable housing units specifically targeted at low-income LGBT seniors. Nonprofits Mercy Housing and Openhouse will oversee that project.

The grant is part of Mayor Lee's recently created Housing Trust Fund, a tax plan that will funnel up to $50 million a year to affordable housing in San Francisco.

"Creating a permanent source of revenue to fund the production of housing in San Francisco will ensure that San Francisco is a viable place to live and work for everyone, at every level of the economic spectrum," said Lee in a statement about the fund.

According to the Examiner, the housing will be for all low-income seniors, but will be designed to create a safe environment for the LGBT community. The Examiner reported:

According to Openhouse, more than 25,000 LGBT seniors live in San Francisco. Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes the Laguna Street site, said LGBT seniors have unique needs, including that they are less likely to have adult children to help care for them. He also said that LGBT seniors can face discrimination at care facilities because of their sexual orientation.

The Examiner also said that the nonprofits could leverage the financial commitment from the City to gain access to federal funding, and that construction could begin as early as next year.

The San Francisco Chronicle noted that affordable housing for LGBT seniors is not a new idea, but rather a goal that's been half a century in the making.

"Very early in the movement for LGBT rights in the United States, people already had the dream of having a place to grow old in safety and security, and a recognition that gay and lesbian elders were vulnerable and may not be welcome in the existing traditional institutions of support for older adults," said Gerard Koskovich of the GLBT History Museum to the Chronicle.

The Chronicle also reported on several local efforts that never saw fruition, largely due to the overwhelming AIDS crisis of the '90s.

But with the new funding from the Housing Trust Fund, the decades-long vision may finally become a reality.

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