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Developer Sees Flood Of Interest In LGBT Senior Housing

Photo by Andrew Bowen

The construction site for an affordable senior housing complex in North Park is seen here, May 11, 2017.

San Diego's first affordable housing development geared toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors has seen a flood of interest, with a sign-up list filling up in less than two weeks.

Nonprofit developer Community HousingWorks broke ground on the project in North Park last summer. When it is completed, the project will offer 75 studios, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments to people 55 years or older who earn 60 percent or less of the area median income. That means an income of less than $36,000 for a one-person household.

Project manager Sylvia Martinez said 250 people signed up for the interest list when it opened on May 1, and that the list reached its cap of 500 on Wednesday. Selection will be through a randomized lottery.

"There was a lot of pent up demand in this community, and people have been waiting for this kind of project for a long time," Martinez said. "North Park is one of the historic hearts of the gay and lesbian community in San Diego, and many folks are getting priced out of this neighborhood now as it gentrifies."

The project is designed to be explicitly welcoming to LGBT seniors, but residents do not have to identify as LGBT to get an apartment. The idea of LGBT-affirming housing for seniors has grown in popularity as more seniors are able to live their lives without hiding their sexuality or gender identity.

Martinez said many LGBT seniors have been discriminated against for their sexuality or gender identity, or have lost friends or partners to AIDS, and that most senior living facilities are not equipped to deal with their unique needs.

"Going back into some senior complexes at this point is actually like a return to the closet," she said. "So this is such an important issue for seniors to have a place where they can be respected and to be in a community that supports them where they're at."

Construction is expected to finish in December.

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