Affordable senior housing projected
for graying LGBT community
Affordable housing activists gather for support to finalize seven-year
to develop affordable housing for LGBT seniors.
By Pat Murphy
July 13, 2006
Assemblyman Mark Leno led elected officials and affordable housing
advocates yesterday in support of affordable senior housing for
San Francisco's graying LGBT population.
The morning City Hall rally culminated from an idea first advanced
seven years ago by former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos when Agnos
served as Western Regional Director of HUD.
Former Mayor Art Agnos recalls first proposing the idea for LGBT
senior housing seven years ago to Mark Leno, seen at left with
San Francisco Supervisor Fiona Ma.
That idea grew to a projected development at 55 Laguna offering
428 mixed-income family rental units. Eighty units are set aside
for LGBT senior citizens.
Artist conception of 55 Laguna Street project
Photo Courtesy AF Evans Company
"The good news is that 55 Laguna is really moving to a point
where we can now tell the world that this is going to become a
reality," Agnos reported.
"When I called Mark I was concerned about the growing numbers
of the retirement poor members of the LGBT community," continued
"I learned that years before that nobody really worried
in the gay community about getting old.
"There were cultural issues that mitigated against that,
health issues that certainly were working against that, and indeed
there were many discriminatory issues that mitigated against that.
"We stopped so much of that thanks to the leadership of
the community itself.
"Those who made it through that kind of experience were
living in isolation in the year 2000, either in the basement of
some rundown house or in some trailer in Texas or New Mexico.
"And we wanted them to be here because here they are part
of family - our family and that's why Openhouse
is moving to where it is today.
Openhouse Volunteer Donna Canali,
Openhouse Board Director Eileen Blumenthal
and Openhouse donor Stephen Blumenthal.
"We are grateful for the leadership. We are grateful for
the professionalism. We grateful for a community in San Francisco
that can make something like this happen. Thank you," Agnos
For his part, Leno described Agnos as "Godfather" of
Assemblyman Mark Leno, champion of groundbreaking California protections
for the LGBT community, ordains Agnos "Godfather."
"Every vision needs a Godfather and I hope Art won't mind
if we give him that title because it was Art who invited... me
and others into his office prior to his leaving HUD to help give
us some ideas of how you can cobble together the necessary components
to bring such a wild and difficult idea to reality," Leno
"So we're very appreciative, very appreciative Art, of your
assistance and leading us to this great moment today."
The development, which receives no City subsidy, offers 20% of
rental units to households earning no more than 50% of area median
income - higher than the 12% affordability required by City law.
Support services sensitive to LGBT needs also are planned.
Del Martin, matriarch of national lesbian activism, at left.
Supervisors, from left, Ross Mirkarimi, Aaron Peskin, and Fiona
Gus Murad, owner of popular nightspot Medjool,
takes note of beautiful woman in red just prior to the woman making
'Excuse me, do you work for the San Francisco Centennial?' red
hued Elizabeth had just inquired. 'Yes I do - I'm the bowtie guy,'
came the smile. 'I read your stuff,' Elizabeth graced. 'Is it
okay if I sit here and watch?' she pondered. 'Sure, this is the
People's Place,' came truth of the matter.
Interested parties includes those who do the work, from left,
legislative aide to Supervisor Bevan Dufty; and Boris Delepine,
legislative aide to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.
'Will you run for mayor? You'd do better with progressives than
Aaron Peskin,' nosed the question. 'Well, do you think I should
run?' deflected the project Godfather.