The construction at 249 S. 13th St. may look, from street level, like a regular apartment building, but there’s more there than meets the eye. The upcoming John C. Anderson Apartments, scheduled to be completed by early next year, will be affordable, LGBT-friendly housing in the heart of the Gayborhood. It will be the second building of its kind in the country.
Of course, LGBT housing does not mean that straight residents are banned. “That would be discrimination, which is what we’re working against,” says Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News and president of the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund (dmhFund).
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“Besides,” he points out, “no affordable senior housing is specifically for one group. The Jewish Federation isn’t only for Jewish people.”
The Anderson Apartments will work as a place where senior members of the LGBT community can live and function without discrimination.
“One of the issues of creating a good community is to take care of the most endangered members,” Segal says. “In this case it’s the seniors. We know too many LGBT seniors in other buildings that have been mistreated by neighbors and building employees. This is a place where they will come and be respected.”
The other major aspect of the 56-unit building is that apartments it will be available to low-income residents. “The seniors are our first gay activists,” explains Segal. “They’re our heroes. Yet many of them are forced to live in the suburbs because that’s what they can afford. Now they’ll be able to cherish and live in the community that they helped to build.”
In addition to residential space, the building will provide 1,700 square feet of to-be-determined commercial space. “That was something that the city wanted,” says Segal. “It’s to help liven up the streets.”
The Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund is named after a 19th-century German doctor. The intention of the organization, which began in 2004, is to help raise money for LGBT projects aimed to create social change. This includes HIV/AIDS education, anti-discrimination campaigns and, of course, LGBT housing.