The nation’s largest LGBTQ-friendly senior housing complex opened on publicly owned land in Fort Greene Tuesday.
Developers and operators of the apartment tower, dubbed Stonewall House in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, celebrated its opening at a corner lot on St. Edwards Street managed by the New York City Housing Authority, bringing long-awaited housing to queer seniors, according to the head of one of the companies involved in the project.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that LGBT elders in New York City have been working for 50 years for a place they can truly call home – since they stood up and said ‘no more’ back at Stonewall in 1969,” said Michael Adams, the chief of the Manhattan LGBTQ advocacy and services company Sage.
LGBTQ seniors are more likely to face housing discrimination and tend to have less children or other family members to support them, making it more difficult for them to live out their golden years in peace, according to a spokeswoman for Sage, Christina Da Costa.
“Many don’t have family because they might have been kicked out of their families,” she said.
The 17-story building adjoining the Ingersoll Houses at the corner of Myrtle Avenue directly vis-a-vis Fort Greene Park contains 145 units, all of which will be priced at below market rates targeting residents with salaries of no more than 50 percent of the city’s area median income, which is currently $96,100 for a family of three.
There are 54 studios and 91 one-bedroom units, and applications must include at least one resident who is 62 years of age or older.
A quarter of the units are earmarked for formerly-homeless households and 54 units are reserved for NYCHA tenants from around the city, 156 applied by the filing deadline that ended in May, according to the authority’s spokesman Barbara Brancaccio.
The city’s housing authority leased the land to Downtown Brooklyn developer BFC Partners in 2017 as part of the agency’s initiative to generate funds with infill development on its land known as NextGeneration NYCHA.
The controversial program allows NYCHA to lease land to private developers to fund repairs for its ailing buildings, but in the case of Stonewall House, the complex does not bring in revenue for the agency, but public housing bigwigs approved the project because of the need for affordable senior housing in the area, according to Brancaccio.
BFC Partners also took out more than $65 million in mortgages from the city’s Housing Development Corporation to fund the project, according to property records.
A spokesman for the developer did not disclose the range of rents the company will charge for the units by press time.
Clinton Hill-based management company the Mutual Housing Association of New York will manage the residential units.
Sage will open and operate a ground-floor community center early next year, which will have programming such as yoga and tai chi and meals, with all staff trained to understand and take care of LGBTQ residents’s specific needs.
“Being able to be in a place where they feel ok whether they’re trans, lesbian, or a gay man, is absolutely important for them,” Da Costa said.