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NYC's First LGBT Affordable Senior Housing Opens In Fort Greene
  "I can't tell you how good it is to feel that I belong here," Diedra Nottingham, a new resident of the Stonewall House, said at its opening.
By Anna Quinn, Patch Staff
Dec 17, 2019


Stonewall House Opens In Fort Greene (Anna Quinn/Patch.)
FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN - For 66-year-old Pam Antrobus, the opening of the Stonewall House in Fort Greene isn't only a momentous occasion because it is the first affordable housing complex specifically focused on welcoming New York's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors.
It is also the first time in nearly a decade she will have a home of her own.
"Basically, I've been, not homeless on the street, but homeless in not having my own home," said Antrobus, who has lived with roommates or in friend's homes since she became disabled in 2010. "I went from living in a two-bedroom apartment to not being able to live any place."
That will all change for Antrobus in the next few weeks when she and dozens of other seniors move into the Stonewall House's 17-story complex, which opened with a ribbon cutting Tuesday.


(Anna Quinn/Patch.)
The building is the first affordable LGBT-friendly senior housing complex in New York City and the largest in the country. It offers its 145 apartments to residents 62 years or older who make 50 percent or less of the area median income. 25 percent of the units will be for those that are formerly homeless.
Per New York's Fair Housing mandate, the building will not exclusively be limited to a certain sexual origination, but rather its goal will be to form an inclusive community that can help LGBT seniors, who are more likely to face housing discrimination and harassment. A community center on the ground floor will be run by SAGE, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT elders.
Seniors like Atrobus, who identifies as a lesbian, says this aspect of the building will not only mean having housing security for perhaps the first time, but becoming part of a community.
Tuesday she got a peek at the apartments, the community center that will offer services to residents and other neighborhood seniors and even met some of her new neighbors, like Keira McGuinness, who will also join Antrobus on the sixth floor.
"The first thing I did was ask her to take care of my cat when I'm away," Atrobus joked. "That's one of the reasons I was so happy to move here - because there are certain services I'll be able to get and I won't feel so in trouble and have nobody to call."
McGuinness, a transgender woman, agreed. Finding an affordable place to live was her main priority, but knowing that it will be in an inclusive space like Stonewall House was "the icing on the cake," she said.
"Clearly, already, there's a different spirit in this building," McGuiness, who is 64, said. "We all have a common experience of age and being LGBT so there's a lot of commonality built in as opposed to just moving into a building and being just one of many."


The St. Edwards Street development, built next to the Ingersoll Houses on New York City Housing Authority land, opened up applications for its apartments in May. The residential part of the building will be managed by BFC Partners.
Tuesday's ribbon cutting wasn't without some pushback, though. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams used his remarks at the opening to raise concerns about what he called a "lack of diversity" in the room. The Stonewall House, he said, is seen by many NYCHA residents next door as a "pretty new building" that will be better taken care of by the city than their longtime homes.
But other speakers didn't necessarily share his concerns, including Ingersoll Houses' board members who said they were "wonderfully exuberant" about the new building.
Grace Bonilla, administrator of the city's Human Resources Administration, said Adams was right there is "more to do" for low-income or homeless New Yorkers, but that Tuesday's ribbon cutting is still an accomplishment.
The ribbon cutting also unveiled the new name of the building, which was first called the Ingersoll Senior Residences. The name is meant to honor those who started the modern LGBT movement with the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
"Those folks who were young folks back then - many of them people of color, transgender or gender non-conforming - today they are our elders and they are our heroes," SAGE President Michael Adams said. "Today represents a historic milestone for our LGBT elders who truly have fought for so long for the support and respect they deserve."

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