Parton, M. (2023, May 15). Hope, perseverance and love’: Dallas nonprofit building housing for LGBTQ seniors. Dallasnews.com. https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2023/05/15/hope-perseverance-and-love-dallas-nonprofit-building-housing-for-lgbtq-seniors/?outputType=amp
Construction is underway on a $31 million housing development in Oak Lawn that aims to become an accepting home for LGBTQ seniors.
Resource Center, a Dallas nonprofit, broke ground Friday for Oak Lawn Place, an 84-unit senior housing development at 5723 Sadler Circle, just northeast of the Southwestern Medical District near Maple Avenue and Inwood Road. The building will be within walking distance of DART’s Inwood Road/Love Field commuter rail station.
Although it aims to prioritize the needs of the LGBTQ community, the apartments will be available to all seniors 55 and older. A full-time Resource Center employee will work at the site to coordinate activities and services alongside the property management group, Volunteers of America Texas.
Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said the new community will be one of “hope, perseverance and love,” a safe home for LGBTQ people who have faced challenges due to their sexual orientation.
She noted that when the apartment complex opens in 2024, it will be 50 years after the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, adding that many people who lived through that event, who she called the “Stonewall generation,” are now in their mid-70s. Stonewall is considered a pivotal historical event in the fight for gay rights.
“Many have struggled to live in a world that has been hostile to them most of their lives,” Cox said. “Because we could not marry, we have fewer financial assets than heterosexuals. We do not have the same support networks – a biological family and children who can take care of us as we age. We have neglected our health because we have had humiliating and discriminatory encounters with medical providers. The list goes on.”
The Dallas Gay Political Caucus, later known as the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, founded what would become Resource Center in 1983 as the Foundation for Human Understanding. The group offers services for the LGBTQ community and individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDs.
“This very day, the Texas legislature is considering bills that are forcing LGBTQIA+ people to justify our very existence. Our lives and our bodies are being used as fodder for lies and misinformation,” Cox said. “Despite this background of propaganda and rhetoric against us, we move forward with more love, and more acceptance, and more people standing with us than ever before.”
The project team also includes development partners Matthews Southwest and the national arm of Volunteers of America, architecture firm Perkins & Will and Spring Valley Construction Co. The project is financed through a mix of government funding and donations, including low-income housing tax credits from the state, a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, tax-increment financing from the city of Dallas and federal funds from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan granted through Dallas County. The Resource Center also raised $4 million.
Units will be designated for residents earning up to 30%, 50% or 60% of the area median income, a requirement of the low-income housing tax credit. The Dallas area’s median income was $97,400 for a family of four in 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“When you look at all the developments that we see coming all over
Dallas County, how many of them are really affordable?” asked Dallas County District 4 Commissioner Elba Garcia. “When we talk about our seniors, all these units are going to be able to fulfill that gap, not only in the LGBTQ community but in Dallas County.”
The project includes financing from the Dallas Housing Opportunity Fund, which received a $10 million investment (https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2022/12/01/truist-bank-invests-10m-for-dallas-affordable-housing/)
from Truist Financial Corp. and a $7.5 million investment by Sunflower Bank last year. (https://www.sunflowerbank.com/Who-We-Are/News-Listing/2022/Dallas-Housing-Opportunity-Fund-raises-$7-5M,-make)
Oak Lawn Place follows other affordable senior projects that have opened in other cities, such as the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Triangle Square (https://lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/senior/triangle-square-affordable-housing) in 2007, the John C. Anderson Apartments (https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/affordable-housing-lgbtq-seniors-philadelphia-model-anderson-apartments-pennrose-20220826.html) in Philadelphia in 2014 and the Town Hall apartments (https://www.heartlandalliance.org/program/housing/town-hall/)
in Chicago in 2014, which was a partnership between nonprofits Heartland Alliance and Center on Halsted.
“From talking to my colleagues across the country that have done some more developments, they’ve had 10 times the amount of [interested tenants] as they have had space,” Cox said.
Cox said the organization found senior housing to be a high-priority need in the LGBT community as far back as 2012. But successfully obtaining competitive tax credits was difficult, Cox said, and the project was met with a string of delays and hurdles.
Resource Center secured the project site in 2020. At about the beginning of 2022, the nonprofit found itself short $5 million because of the impact of the pandemic on materials cost and labor availability, Cox said. The team was able to fill that gap through Dallas County. Still, rising interest rates and slow permitting in the city also added delays.
“We were committed to getting it done,” Cox said.