Andy Post spent his summer interviewing more than 100 LGBTQ seniors and advocates through a Humanity in Action Fellowship created by CHH and Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center.
Andy Post spent his summer interviewing more than 100 LGBTQ seniors and advocates through a Humanity in Action Fellowship created by CHH and Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center.

A community visioning workshop will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at The Summit, 420 E. Pike St.

Andy Post spent his summer interviewing more than 100 LGBTQ seniors and advocates, helping to create the framework for Capitol Hill Housing’s latest development project.

CHH is planning to construct a seven-story LGBTQ-affirming senior housing complex in the parking lot next to its Helen V Apartments at 14th Avenue and East Union Street. Plans are to create 44-66 affordable housing units, and to renovate the Helen V. The first floor of the new development will include around 4,000 square feet of commercial space.

“This is needed and important housing, and it is about time,” said Capitol Hill Housing CEO Chris Persons during a presentation of the project at Gay City on Thursday, Sept. 21, “especially in light of the attack and beating of a transgender woman just up the street at Rancho Bravo a night or two ago, and in light of the horrible shooting of Scott Schultz at Georgia Tech. We know painfully that our struggle against intolerance is not over.”

Persons said all CHH housing options are inclusive, but this project provides a unique opportunity to not only upgrade the 38-unit Helen V Apartments, but also to construct senior housing that is designed and programmed to support the needs of aging LGBTQ community members.

While once Seattle’s “gayborhood,” gentrification and population increases are displacing older residents. Persons said senior housing to keep older LGBTQ residents in Capitol Hill can’t wait, but the development process will be long.

CHH expects to begin the $25 million project in November 2018 and open the senior housing complex in 2020, with full occupancy by August.

“The development process for something like this is a long row to hoe,” Persons said.

Housing will be made available to seniors making 30-50 percent of the area median income, Post said, or less than $33,000 per year.

CHH plans to finance the development with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, public funds and bank financing. Environmental Works has been tapped as the project architect.

Post was brought on this summer to work with CHH to explore the housing and health care needs of elderly LGBTQ residents through a Humanity in Action Fellowship created by CHH and Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center.

Virginia Mason rheumatologist Amish J. Dave told the Capitol Hill Times he serves on the steering committee for the project, and that for a long time the medical center has been looking for ways to better serve LGBTQ patients. That includes improved care for transgender people, he said.

Once the LGBTQ-affirming senior housing development opens to residents, on-site health programs and services will be provided by Generations Aging with Pride, a nonprofit focused on multigenerational solutions to challenges facing older LGBTQ adults.

“We as a community both deserve to be heard, and we raise our voices,” said Dr. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, co-chair of Generations Aging with Pride and professor and director of Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the University of Washington.

Fredriksen-Goldsen said her work to make sure LGBTQ seniors are not an invisible population started two decades ago.

Transgender individuals and bisexuals have the highest rate of health disparity and discrimination, she said. King County’s elderly LGBTQ population is expected to double by 2030, according to CHH.

In 2015, Fredriksen-Goldsen and her colleagues at the UW School of Social Work published “At-Risk and Underserved: LGBTQ Older Adults in Seattle/King County – Findings from Aging with Pride.” The report was completed following a survey of more than 200 LGBTQ adults 50 to 85 years old.

LGBTQ seniors have higher risks of disability, mental distress, isolation and poor health, according to the report.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed also reported experiencing three or more incidents of victimization; 70 percent stated they were verbally assaulted, and 40 percent reported receiving threats of physical violence.

“We have a lot of work in front of us,” said Fredriksen-Goldsen in a project video directed by Post and screened during Thursday’s community meeting.



“I’m going to put myself on the waitlist,” said Ruben Jackman, co-chair of Generations Aging with Pride and director of resident services at the Senior Housing Association Group (SHAG). “I’m in the young-old category.”

Jackman said GAP is excited to provide services to Capitol Hill Housing’s future LGBTQ senior residents.

“It takes a village,” he told a packed crowd at Gay City on Thursday, “so here’s the village.”

Trans-rights advocate and longtime Capitol Hill resident Jesse Harris shared what he’d learned from his visit to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Triangle Square, the nation’s first completely LGBT senior housing apartments.

“We can have this here in Seattle,” Harris said. “I’m surprised we don’t already.”

Capitol Hill Housing’s LGBTQ-affirming senior housing project will be inclusive and follow fair housing laws, meaning allies will also be able to reside there.

Harris bemoaned the loss of the Capitol Hill he knew when he arrived in Seattle back in 1976.

“Capitol Hill is not the way it used to be,” he said. “It’s been gentrified. It’s been straightened out.”

CHH is in the process of setting up more community meetings and a dedicated website for providing project updates.