Philadelphia's 1st gay-friendly senior housing complex

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January 2, 2014 3:30:42 PM PST
It was move-in day for new residents of the John C. Anderson Apartments, Philadelphia's gay-friendly, low-income, senior housing complex.

It is the first apartment building of its kind in the city, and one of only a few in the nation.

Michael Palumbaro is one of the first 6 tenants to move into the John Anderson Apartments.

Located in the 200 block of South 13th Street, the six-story complex has 56, one-bedroom apartments and a five thousand square foot courtyard.

Michael, who is 70-years-old and suffers from severe arthritis, is moving from a larger home in the Northeast.

"I needed to be in a place without stairs," said Michael. "Safety was a big issue, and I was so pleased to see here, for example, in the bathroom there are those bars. And I never had a walk-in closet before."

Michael also has a view of the courtyard and fountain, and so does new tenant, Jerry Zeft.

Jerry's belongings were supposed to be moved in by his landscaper friends, but they are too busy preparing area streets for the upcoming snow storm. But he still plans to stay the night in his new home.

"I am sleeping on an airbed which is coming later on from my friend downtown at the Kimmel Center; that's where I work," said Jerry.

Studies show that nearly half of all local LGBT seniors find it difficult to afford housing, and 13 percent of them live in unstable environments.

The apartments are named for former city Councilman John Anderson, who was instrumental in the city's civil rights bill as the city led the way in so many gay civil rights achievements.

Activist Mark Segal says with all that legislation, Philadelphia's first generation of gay citizens has been neglected.

"If you came out in the 1960's, for the most part, you didn't have the support of your family, you couldn't get a decent job," said Segal. "They are now in their 60's, 70's, and 80's, and they don't have a decent place to live. We wanted to create an environment so they could live with dignity in their own community, and I hope we have done that."

Segal expects all of the units will be occupied before the official opening of the complex next month.


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