The Pride Center, one of the nation's largest nonprofit LGBT community centers, has a lot happening on its five-acre campus – Equality Park – just north of Fort Lauderdale in the City of Wilton Manors, Fla. This week, plans were announced to add a new wrinkle: affordable senior housing.
After more than a year of discussions and an RFP process, The Pride Center selected Miami-based Carrfour Supportive Housing, Florida’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, to build 48 apartment units on site in the first phase of its long-term plan.
There is already 30,000 square feet of office and meeting space for programs and services in Equality Park that The Pride Center, which launched in 1993, operates.
Of the 48 apartments Carrfour will build, 34 will be designated for low-income seniors living with disabling conditions, such as physical illnesses or disabilities due to complications from HIV/AIDS. The remaining units will provide affordable low-income housing for seniors earning less than 60% of the area’s median income (AMI) – or approximately $35,000 a year. The first phase of construction will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017 and be completed in late 2018.
The apartments will be geared toward members of the LGBT community, but there is no requirement that a person must identify as a LGBT member to live there, says Stephanie Berman, president and CEO of Carrfour.
The project will be Carrfour’s first in Broward County, Fla. and its first built specially for the LGBT community. Berman says her organization is glad to be involved. “There’s not a lot of LGBT housing throughout the country so we’re excited,” she says.
“Broward County has a rapidly-expanding population of aging LGBT adults and unfortunately, very limited affordable housing options,” said Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center, in a release. “The Residences at Equality Park, coupled with The Pride Center’s ever-growing seniors programming – the largest LGBT seniors program in the nation – will help give these residents a permanent and safe place to live along with the supportive services they need to stay there.”
Berman says the senior LGBT community and those living with disabilities are underserved populations, especially in South Florida. Carrfour will serve as the project’s developer, operator, and service coordinator. The Pride Center will provide residents with innovative on-site supportive services, including healthcare navigation and coordination, senior support groups, counseling, and recreational activities.
Since this is Carrfour’s first project in Broward County – it has develop more than 1,500 affordable units in 17 housing communities across South Florida since its founding in 1993 – Berman says it was important to partner with a group such as The Pride Center, which has a solid reputation in the community.
“We wanted to make sure that as we build supportive housing in a community, especially a community that we’re new to, that we partnered with an established, mission-driven, not-for-profit that the community, knows, respects, and is excited about working with,” she says.
In a release, Carrfour states that The Residences at Equality Park “joins a growing national trend in which senior affordable housing projects are being built in conjunction with LGBT community centers in major cities across the country, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, and Philadelphia. According to a recent survey by the Institute for Multigenerational Health, 47% of LGBT seniors in the U.S. are currently living with a disabling condition.”
There are plans for a second phase of apartments – an additional 74 units – but a timeline for the project has not been set. Also in the pipeline but without an official timeline are a multi-use center, an outdoor pavilion, and a boathouse café and picnic area on the banks of the Middle River. Additional parking structures also are planned.