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An artist in residence (she can afford)

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Marketplace

LGBT senior citizens find welcoming home in Philadelphia

Elizabeth Fiedler Feb 18, 2014
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In Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and now Philadelphia, housing is opening that’s tailored to the needs of gay, lesbian and transgender senior citizens. Philadelphia’s new LGBT-friendly housing is giving some for low income senior citizens more than just an affordable new home.

Michael Palumbaro has been living with HIV for 27 years. He says for him, the gay-friendly John C. Anderson Apartments offer a chance to build a new life.

“I’ve lost a lot of friends you know due to the AIDS crisis and so I wanted to be around other seniors you know have my background and experience. Cause they’re hard to find these days,” he says.

Palumbaro is 70 years old. He says, given his history of falling, he appreciates that this place was built with seniors in mind: complete with a first floor laundry room, and an elevator so he doesn’t have to climb stairs. Now he dreams of passing his golden years here with lots of celebrations, and new friends.

“Most of my family has passed, but like other LGBT folks, you really develop a strong bond with what we call ‘family of choice.’ And it would be wonderful to have Thanksgiving with ‘family of choice’ here.”

Palumbaro can also access on-site medical care and legal help. And the apartments are affordable. Monthly rents range from about $200 to $780 a month. Residents income can’t be more than $33,000 a year.

Mark Segal, the publisher of the “Philadelphia Gay News,” has been working for years to make these apartments a reality.

“If you were openly gay or lesbian or trans in 1960’s the chance of getting a decent job, were nil.” Segal says getting a job with retirement benefits was even less likely. Without those things, he says, LGBT seniors are in trouble.

Segal says those seniors, who fought for the freedoms the LGBT community now enjoys, deserve an apartment building like this.

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