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Capitol Hill Community Post | A Home for LGBTQ Elders on Capitol Hill

From Chris Persons, CEO at Capitol Hill Housing

This week we are excited to introduce a new project that will bring Seattle its first (that we are aware of) affordable housing development designed to be affirming to LGBTQ seniors.

We are planning to redevelop the parking lot of the Helen V Apartments at 14th and Union. The Helen V, which CHH has owned for 16 years, serves as an affordable home for low-income seniors and individuals with permanent disabilities. This project will upgrade the Helen V, add an entirely new mixed-use building with affordable homes, and create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ elders in our neighborhood to age in place.

For the past few months, we’ve been meeting with dozens of LGBTQ-serving organizations to better understand how we can leverage design, social programs and health interventions in the building to support aging LGBTQ community members.

This project supports our LGBTQ elders who, compared to their peers, are more likely to live in poverty, be at higher risk for illness, and have less support of children or biological family. LGBTQ seniors often find themselves isolated in traditional retirement communities, and are frequently forced back into the closet to survive.

As an organization with deep roots on Capitol Hill, we seek opportunities to meet emergent needs in this community. At a time when rising rents and rapid change threaten the neighborhood’s LGBTQ identity, projects like this embody our commitment, above and beyond developing affordable housing, to building vibrant and engaged communities.

This project will be financed with LIHTC, public funds and bank financing.  In a community where there is a significant need for affordable housing, there is also a significant demand on resources.  Timing of the development will not be known until all financing is secured.

We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I invite you to join us on September 21st from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium for an evening of food, speakers and conversation about health and housing for LGBTQ elders. You can register for the event here, or RSVP on Facebook.

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4 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Community Post | A Home for LGBTQ Elders on Capitol Hill

  1. Segregated housing is against federal law under the fair housing act. It’s just as illegal to advertise housing as for LBGT as it would be to advertise housing as NOT for LBGT.

    • The statement in this article that says this would “create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ elders” doesn’t imply that it would be segregated housing. Plus the the Capitol Hill Times article that is linked clarifies further: “The senior housing proposed would not be exclusively for LGBTQ community members, and anyone of the right age and income level could qualify.” Therefore this is not segregated housing, at all.

  2. This project comes at a great expense to the residents of the Helen V Apartments, which is actually a Section 8 HUD Subsidized building that serves low-income tenants, not specific to the elderly and disabled. (Although many of its residents are elderly and disabled.) But who cares if they build more housing for the poor on the same lot as us poor people? So what if the residents lose their parking? But there’s more to this than that. We the residents know this is purely about profit, nothing else. Seattle is completely in the pockets of developers with no square inch protected.
    Capitol Hill Housing needs to address the following issues:
    1) Helen V Apartments meets all the criteria for landmark designation and landmark status. This project would compromise visibility of the significant historical features of this property. Doesn’t anyone care about Historic Preservation anymore?? Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, please help us designate this property!
    2) A 2+ year construction project severely disrupts the daily lives of the tenants of the Helen V and our neighbors and will compromise safety and accessibility to the building. More than half of the residents park in the parking lot, and the majority of residents are dropped off and picked up in this lot. There is no on-street parking available. For those residents with mobility issues, removal of the parking lot creates significant hazards to enter and leave the premises. Also, reasonable access for emergency services, the fire department and medics, as well as rubbish removal needs to be addressed. Construction sites are also an open invitation for increased crimes of vandalism and trespassing. As it is, vandalism and trespassing are big enough issues at this site already.
    3) Directly across the street from the Helen V are very active and loud nightclubs and bars with large crowds! Why would you build senior housing across the street from loud nightclubs and bars? This makes no sense whatsoever. Not somewhere I would want to live as a senior.
    On behalf of the residents of the Helen V Apartments, I am urging Capitol Hill Housing to find another location for this project. The Helen V Parking Lot is not an appropriate site for this development! Also the residents of the Helen V Apartments appreciate never being notified or consulted about Capitol Hill Housing’s intent to build this project in our parking lot. Instead we had to read about it in the news.

  3. So they want to put some of our most vulnerable citizens (LGBTQ, elderly, AND disabled) in a high-crime area? It doesn’t make any sense until you realize how outrageous the rent is in that neighborhood. Capitol Hill Housing can charge whatever ridiculous amount they want for rent, knowing HUD will cover whatever the tenants can’t afford.

    They’re using public funds to endanger vulnerable people, they’re going to make a ton of money doing it, and they’ve fooled you into thinking it’s a good idea.