Senior housing for LGBTQIA is a first for King County

Senior housing for LGBTQIA is a first for King County

(Pictured: Laney, one of the residents, talks about Pride Place during a grand-opening of the Seattle apartment building for LGBTQIA+ seniors.)

Six words—“Pride Place is my happy place”—might best summarize how Laney feels about where she lives.

The Seattle musician and theater artist is among the residents of Pride Place, an affordable housing complex focused on housing seniors who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and other identities (LGBTQIA+). Located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, it’s the first housing project of its kind for King County, using transit-oriented development funds with the senior LGBTQIA+ community in mind.

The development is a collaboration since 2017 of Community Roots Housing, an affordable-housing provider founded in 1976 by Capitol Hill community activists concerned about redlining, and GenPride, the first LGBTQIA+ senior-focused organization in Washington.

“Our partnership is determined to put a stake in the ground to stop displacement of the LGBTQIA+ community from their historic neighborhood,” said Christopher Persons, Community Roots Housing’s chief executive officer.

With deep connections to Seattle’s Lesbian and Gay Chorus and other artist collectives with roots in Capitol Hill, Laney is excited about her return to the neighborhood she calls home.

Pride Place “is the kind of home that my friends and I talked about in our 40s and could only dream about,” she said..“After being in the closet for a long while in my last residence, and now that I’m here at Pride Place, I can feel my heart opening up again. Being able to be who I am and continuing to serve my community means everything to me.”

Laney and dozens of others moved into Pride Place . As of May 1, applications are still being accepted at for the 118-unit building that also features the Pacific Northwest’s first community center for “rainbow elders” and allies. The building is eco-friendly with solar panels, a green roof with bioretention planters, triple-paned windows, and ventilation for energy efficient fresh air circulation.

Largely inspired by a 2018 study from the University of Washington entitled, “Aging in Community: Addressing LGBTQ Inequities in Housing and Senior Services,” Pride Place addresses the housing and service-related needs of LGBTQIA+ older adults (people aged 50-87).  A third of the 419 surveyed reported experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation in the sale or rental of an apartment or home. Half of respondents experienced homelessness and felt aging information and referral services were not LGBTQ-affirming, and a third experienced eviction.

“Pride Place is about belonging. Pride Place is not only providing people a place to live, but also providing a welcoming home and safe space for our LGBTQIA+ elders to be their authentic selves without fear or shame,” said Simon Foster, Division Director of Housing, Homelessness and Community Development in King County’s Department of Community and Human Services.

“In the spirit of liberation and opportunity, we celebrate Pride Place and all the people involved in this very important work. We honor your efforts and the legacy being built in Capitol Hill,” Foster said.

Source: King County Community and Human Services’ “Cultivating Connections” blog.