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Affordable housing for gay seniors opens in Philadelphia

BY KATHY MATHESON
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHILADELPHIA -- Jerry Zeft was so excited to move into his new apartment that he slept on an air mattress for nearly a week while he waited for his bed and other belongings to catch up with him. No matter that he's 70 years old.

Zeft had landed a coveted spot in a new affordable housing complex for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Only two other U.S. cities have similar developments.

"I wanted to get into a community that I'm more comfortable in," Zeft said shortly after picking up the keys to his unit.

This month's opening of the John C. Anderson Apartments vindicates years of work by supporters who felt gay elders have been marginalized by youth culture, even within LGBT circles.

Experts say gay seniors are less likely than their straight peers to have the financial and family resources to age in homes of their own. Many fear discrimination at traditional elder housing facilities, leading them back into the closet after years of being open.

Philadelphia now joins Los Angeles and Minneapolis as locations with designated gay-friendly, affordable senior housing, collectively offering about 200 units.

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