Chicago, IL —
Construction crews on Monday began placing scaffolding around the former historic 23rd District Town Hall Police Station in Lakeview as work begins on one of America's first affordable LGBT senior homes.
"This is historic for the city of Chicago and the entire Midwest," 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney told ChicagoPride.com. "This facility will be one of the first in the nation and it is dedicated to meeting the needs of the LGBT community."
Emily Blum, Director of Communications for the Heartland Alliance
, told the LakeView Patch
that they plan to hold an official groundbreaking ceremony in the future. The initial work is an effort to save the historic facade and is just the first step in what will be a long transformation of the building into the housing facility, which is expected to open in late Spring of 2014.
Heartland Housing, a nonprofit specializing in affordable housing, and Center on Halsted
are collaborating to bring the six-story affordable LGBT housing center to Boystown. The building will contain 79 LGBT-affirming studio and one-bedroom units. Seniors living in the building will be connected to services through Center on Halsted
"This is the first generation that fought at Stonewall," Brian Richardson, former Director of Public Affairs for the Center on Halsted
, told the Patch. "They were the first generation that woke up everyone about AIDS. They came out of the closet first and really changed the world for generations behind them. They're also now the first generation, in large, who are aging."
The housing has been a dream of Ald. Tunney, who was instrumental in winning approval for the $21 million project. The Chicago Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners voted in favor on Sept. 18.
"This will be a destination where our seniors can have a safe and accepting environment to live their lives with pride and confidence," said Tunney.
The project will be second only to Los Angeles' Triangle Place that offers similar services.