Coming Home: At the Nation's First Affordable-Housing Complex for LGBT Seniors, Created with Public and Private Support, L.A.-Area Elders Have a Place to Call Their Own

Article excerpt

At first glance, Triangle Square is just the latest apartment complex opening in rapidly gentrifying Hollywood, the fabled Los Angeles neighborhood that is emerging from decades of malaise to become a thriving urban center. The lobby looks like the interior of a W Hotel; the famed intersection Hollywood and Vine (site of a future W Hotel) is two blocks away; and two upscale commercial projects built over the past five years sit just to the south. But Triangle Square is a different kind of apartment building: Thanks to local, state, and federal support, it's the nation's first multicultural affordable-housing development for LGBT seniors.

Unlike LGBT-oriented retirement centers being developed in Santa Fe, N.M., and Palm Springs, Calif., where units will be priced at market rates, Triangle Square's 103 apartments are for those on fixed and low incomes over age 62. Monthly rates are between $230 and $800. In a white-hot rental market like Los Angeles, that's a steal.

"Across the street units are going for $1,600 to $2,500," says Mark Supper, executive director of the nonprofit Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, which spearheaded Triangle Square. The complex opened in May and features a computer room on each of its four. floors, plus a gym, pool, library, media room, and game room.

Of the target residents, Supper says, "many of them are in dire situations." Often lacking the family support that straight elders receive--and facing atmospheres at most retirement communities that are far from gay-friendly--many out seniors return to the closet, if they can find a space that will take them at all. Indeed, 17 Triangle Square units are designated for those who are homeless or in danger of becoming so.

Supper views helping such folks as less an act of charity than as a community necessity. "I feel very strongly we wouldn't be standing hero, you and I, having this conversation--even The Advocate existing--if it were not for our seniors who had fought for us," he says during a recent tour. …


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