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Ribbon cut for New England's first affordable apartment building aimed at LGBTQ seniors

Aileen Montour and Gretchen Van Ness

Aileen Montour and Gretchen Van Ness, who helped shepherd the project for LGBTQ Senior Housing.

City and state officials joined with the LGBTQ community in Hyde Park today to formally open the new Pryde apartment building, with 74 "LGBTQ-affirming" apartments, the first such affordable building in New England, on the anniversary of the Stonewall riot and 20 years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Tenants, people 62 and older who make between 30% and 100% of the Boston area median income - $36,690 to $103,900 for one person - will soon begin moving into the former William Barton Rogers Middle School at Everett Street and Harvard Avenue, across from the BPL's Hyde Park branch. Although the apartments are aimed at members of the LGBTQ community, anybody could apply for them.

Gretchen Van Ness, a local civil-rights attorney and executive director of LGBTQ Senior Housing, said the new tenants will include a 65-year-old veteran who spent the past four years in veterans housing, where "he had not made a single friend," a senior lesbian who lives alone and who could never before figure out how to apply for a lower-cost apartment and another woman who was thrilled to learn she could bring her pets with her.

Now, they are "truly free to be their complete, authentic selves," LGBTQ Senior Housing co-foundinger Aileen Montour said.

"It looks beautiful, you all!" Mayor Wu said of the work of local architect Philippe Saad. Saad, a founding member of the group that pushed for and then oversaw the project - LGBTQ Senior Housing - combined the conversion of classrooms into modern apartments and community spaces while maintaining some of the original touches of the William Barton Rogers school, such as its tiling in one hallway and friezes showing people in Greek or Roman attire in a renovated auditorium.

In the revamped auditorium:

Auditorium with rainbow stripes on the floor

And the building outside:

Pryde exterior

Wu called the ribbon cutting "one of the most important celebrations we could experience here in the city" and said the Pryde will become "the place the rest of the country has their eyes on." She noted the rights the community has increasingly won: "So much of that progress we owe to our LGBTQ+ seniors" and projects such as the Pryde are one way to repay them, she said.

Saad and Wu cutting the ceremonial ribbon:

Saad and Wu cut the ribbon

City Council President Ruthzee Louijeune, whose younger and older sisters attended the school, said today was a happy day for her, but cautioned the sort of bigots who doused the fences around the building with homophobic graffiti in 2022 that she and other allies have will "ride at dawn" if anybody tries anymore nonsense there. "When they come for one of us, they come for all of us," she said, paraphrasing David Ortiz's famous words after the 2013 Marathon bombings: "This is our expletive city!"

"I have never been more proud to call myself a Hyde Parker," state Rep. Rob Consalvo (D-14th Suffolk) said. Consalvo helped push the project along, first as a BPS aide who helped convince then Mayor Marty Walsh to start the process of handing over the decaying, abandoned school to LGBTQ Senior Housing, later as a member of the House housing committee.

The group won millions in grants and financing packages from city, state and federal programs to help pay for two years of construction by Pennrose, a Philadelphia-based developer that specializes in mixed-income projects like the Pryde. Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll said that while the Pryde is the first such apartment building in the state, it won't be the last.

Art by Hyde Park residents lines one corridor:

Corridor lined with art by Hyde Park residents

In addition to apartments, the new building includes a community center and office and display space the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company A, whose members uphold and re-enact the history of the first Black regiment in the Civil War, which trained in Hyde Park.

Among the 200 or so people on hand for the ceremony, members of the 54th Massachusetts group:

Two members of the 54th Massachusetts reenactors group
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Comments

The Massachusetts anti-discrimination law.

Before you answer, consider that the law is neutral in the matter of protected classes under the 14th Amendment if a developer said they were opening "white affirming" or "hetero affirming" apartments.

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Someone already has the vapors ...

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67

Why didn’t you at least read the first few paragraphs:

Although the apartments are aimed at members of the LGBTQ community, anybody could apply for them.

Now, what is it you’re on about?

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71

anyone can apply for them."

As a matter of law that's the same statement.

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Laws don’t operate in a vacuum. Just because one law doesn’t explicitly state you cannot do something doesn’t mean other laws that do say that don’t apply.

But playing your fun game, the specific law you state would allow that, sure, insofar as the actual application process was clear that anyone can apply. Therefore, not a violation of 151B.

Other laws and provisions (not to mention common decency) would suffice not to allow such a statement.

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what you're saying.

"One law . . . other laws and provisions . . common decency" wtf? Word salad.

Yes, law is pedantic.

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Couldn't contain your hate.

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I can't imagine you can find an honest person that would dispute that the entirety of Provincetown is an LGBTQ-affirming place to reside. Is that illegal?

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Its not illegal.

I think the idea behind this complex being "aimed at LGBTQ people" isn't about "we're only going to rent to gay people" but more "if you move in here know that a good chunk of your neighbors might be LGBTQ" cuz.. sadly.. this day in age (ugh) there are people who might have a problem with that.

And Ptown isn't a gay-only town. Its a LGBTQIX-friendly community. Like the complex above.. "if you come to Ptown, there's a good chance the person you are standing next to in line for clams at John's Footlong on the pier will be LGBTQIX".

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It's more likely you're (quite illegally) discouraged from applying because they've made it clear you're not welcome, or if you do apply the commissars deny your application if you don't show LGBTQ+ bona fides and tell you it's full.

The housing market in Provincetown is private and not subject to an all-encompassing mandate so the analogy is inapposite.

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Do you know of anyone who has been denied from this development based on their sexual or gender identity?

From the Pryde website (https://www.lgbtqseniorhousing.org/living-at-pryde):

Our future residents will be…

LGBTQ people and allies aged 62+ who:

qualify for affordable housing
are single or live with another person
do not need services required at assisted living facilities, but want opportunities to enrich their physical and mental health
are looking for connection with other like-minded individuals in their housing community and beyond its walls
want to reside in a place where they can be their authentic selves

That is a fairly clear statement that they WILL allow residents who do not identify as LGBTQ.

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Yes, they got government funding, but this isn't a BHA project.

And this may sound pedantic, but legally, to prove discrimination, you're going to have to find somebody who actually applied and was rejected. Sorry, but that's how the courts work.

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MGL 151B, s 4, Unlawful Practices

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXI/Chapter151B/Se...

It shall be an unlawful practice: . . . .

7B. For any person to make print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of multiple dwelling, contiguously located, publicly assisted or other covered housing accommodations that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation which shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor children as the sex object, national origin, genetic information, ancestry, children, marital status, public assistance recipiency, or handicap or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination except where otherwise legally permitted.

and yes, it's a "covered housing accommodation," see section 1, Definitions.

I guess the developers are confident that Massachusetts politics gives them impunity.

If a developer publicized a housing development on a website with the domain name of straightseniorhousing.org which said "Our future residents will be straight people and allies aged 62+" etc the Attorney General's Civil Rights Office would file a complaint before the day was out.

Legally, there's no difference. It's just lawless politics which allows this.

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Are you? Or if you are, you’re not a very good one.

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This project was vetted by experts in law (which apparently you are not - it's easy enough to copy and paste citations). Marketing is not a form of discrimination. It is not expressing a preference because for legal purposes a preference means that a people practical, material actions are implemented to give advantages to one group and disadvantages against another group.

Again, learn what you are writing about. Research the case law. Understand what the words mean in this context they are used.

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yet you have no citation to support your opinion.

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You make accusations and were asked multiple times to support them.

Yet you didn't because you can't.

Now this.

LOL.

At least time you spend twisting logic and spewing hate and liking your own comments while not logged in is time that you don't spend on your perverse obsessions about children's sexuality.

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Hmm, so Hebrew Senior Life, Deaconess Hospital, St. Elizabeth's, and New England Baptist can all be sued for discrimination by discouraging non-Jews, non-Methodists, non-Catholics, or non-Baptists from using their facilities because of their names and promotional material?

But you see, they don't, despite religion being clearly stated as a protected status in MGL 151B. That's because they don't discriminate, even though they all to varying degrees reflect the religious values of their founding organizations in a way that specifically appeals to people of those faiths. Believe me, St E's is not performing abortions, but they do not refuse to treat a patient simply because the patient isn't Catholic.

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Hebrew Senior Life said on their webpage and elsewhere "our future patients and residents will be Jews and their allies."

or if St. Elizabeth's Hospital said "our future patients will be Catholics and their allies."

but they don't, so they're not "indicat[ing] any preference, limitation, or discrimination" illegally in their public face and in no way is their posture the same.

Shitlibs and right-wingers both believe that anti-discrimination laws don't protect white people, males, or straight people as categories within protected classes. They're wrong.

The only difference is that shitlibs think that's a good thing, while right wingers want to repeal anti-discrimination laws.

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Can you establish that a preference in selection is indicated?

Case law involving this statute would be helpful.

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only have to show they stated "any preference" among categories of protected classes

I haven't found many SJC or Appeals Court cases citing Section 4(7B) yet. That's because housing developers and managers avoid stating "any preference." Even asking a person where they are from has triggered fines and damages.

Linder v. Boston Fair Housing Commission, Appeals Court 2013

Stating "no kids because of lead paint" is also a violation.

I will continue to look for a case, but the words of the statute are clear enough.

The state AG and local housing authorities are supposed to enforce this law, but they're not because of politics in this case.

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If you truly believe that the law is being violated here, don't you have a duty to report it to the legal authorities?

The AG's Civil Rights Division would be a good start if you would like to file a complaint: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-civil-rights-complaint

You can hypothesize all you want on here about what you think those in positions of responsibility will or won't do, but it is only hypothetical unless you can point to specific evidence.

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I'll spend a few minutes pointing out the bullshit and hypocrisy under which we live, but I'm not going to waste my time and be a lightning rod.

The evidence is the offering itself, which speaks for itself and violates Section 4 (7B) of Chapter 151B.

As a political matter, that kind of "some people are more equal than others" exemption from law creates a reaction. People want the law to be equally applied.

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Your oppressive imagination is responsible for your plight, and I hope someday you can get ahead of it, instead of spending so much time arguing against "different".

I get you. You think we are free. Free to be just like you.

Will fake for their hate.

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Still can't contain your hate.

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Other people exist to suffer your bigoted imagination?

Your aren't arguing facts, you're just manspreading.

In other words your comment offers 100% speculation. No evidence. Nothing that supports the comment.

Which makes the comment far more similar to the kind of caca that spews out of Don the Convict's mouth.

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Did you actually read the story? Because I figured somebody like you would ask a question like that and so provided the answer, but if you're too busy to read two or three paragraphs down, here it is again:

Although the apartments are aimed at members of the LGBTQ community, anybody could apply for them.

Yeah, they didn't take out ads on Newsmax, tsk. But legally, if you met the other qualifications (over 62 and making no more than whatever the Boston area median income is for the apartment you were applying for), you'd have as much a shot as anybody else.

Might be a bit too late to apply now, though, since there was a lot of demand and all the apartments are now spoken for. But it doesn't hurt to put your name in for future consideration, because I'm sure there's no place you'd rather be than in the heart of Hyde Park, right across the street from not only a BPL branch, but an American Legion post with Saturday meat raffles.

Or file a complaint with the state Attorney General's office. I'm sure they'll give it the consideration it deserves.

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Will you still be allowed to play stickball in the school yard out back? Would be pretty cool if they organized a tournament.

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Many senior housing, assisted living, or nursing homes are hostile to non-straight people. I know my mother's great fear was that she'd have to go back in the closet if she needed to move out of her home.

This will be a place where LGBTQ+ people won't feel isolated or have to worry about being stigmatized. The labeling of this housing complex will discourage homophobes from applying to live there. I'm straight, and if I were looking to move, I'd be happy to apply to live there.

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Is the question here.

And if you were rejected, aside from sexual preference, what would it be based upon?

Obviously others on here are trying to pick fights but as a thinking exercise what if you discovered that someone received an apartment over you because they have history with members of the housing board or the gay community overall. Would that seem fair?

I support these projects entirely but to pretend that people don't abuse power or pull strings in favor of their own groups is naive.

The process should be completely open amd transparent.

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That the group that got the apartments built is not being open and transparent. Proof?

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So why the concern about that particular abuse practiced here since it is one of those things that happens enough that to "pretend that people don't abuse power ... is naive?"

Sounds to me like a person using a backdoor method of picking a fight.

Actually, this is a good example of unconscious bias. Would comment be made about a housing project that was specifically and only for people who were below a certain income limit? Unless the answer is yes then the comment offered as a caution about this development is mostly likely loaded with a ton of bias.

Then get rid of senior housing. It’s discriminatory based on age anyway.

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Spend some time learning the details. There is ZERO discrimination. Anyone who fits the legal requirements will qualify to live in the complex.

What is going on is the the marketing is directed toward gays and lesbians, etc. If you were to spend time learning about anti-discrimination laws you would learn that the anti-discrimination laws do not control to whom the residences are marketed.

Your references to white affirming and hetero affirming do not qualify as discrimination. They would deservedly be condemned in public opinion as representing a bigotry against others. No one can make a legitimate and honest argument that hetero or white are either characteristics that have been for decades to centuries the objects of hatred (well, professional whiners would). But that marketing would not violate laws.

But then perhaps your point is to just be petty.

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A good lesson for kids, including on how to take credit for other people's work.

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That's a new one to me.

This whole thing is pure virtue signaling.

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It's a play on a local phrase: "Hyde Pride." If you're from Hyde Park (or, oh, six doors down from the old town line, say), you've heard that phrase a gazillion times.

I'm sure somebody could do something similar with "OFD "

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I see

I didn't know I needed forgiveness though.

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Just your comment indicated a lack of knowledge about a Hyde Park-specific phrase. I'm sure there are plenty of people in Hyde Park who would go "huh?" if you asked them what "OFD" means.

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Shoulda been called Napoleon & Josephine's.

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This post begs the questions of how we determine underserved populations and how we establish their hierarchies.

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You decide there's a group in Boston that really needs an apartment community where its members are free to be themselves, without fear of what they feel is a lifetime of discrimination.

For argument's sake, let's call them the Butthurt.

So what do you do? You use LGBTQ Senior Housing as a model.

You hold meetings to come up with a plan to create a Butthurt-affirming community.

And then you work your Butthurt butts off. For years. You meet endlessly with elected officials and bureaucrats You raise money and identify a location. You raise even more money. It's hard work!

But then maybe one day you too can have a ribbon cutting for your fellow butthurters.

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This is an exciting first step in changing Hyde Park. There will be more senior housing soon, currently being built across the street from the Muni.
Mayor Wu's Squares and Streets initiative will give our town a further boost.

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Veterans are the only group that should get this type of protected housing.

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Throw the poor and the elderly out?

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Why?

A lot of veterans just push pencils around in an office for a few years. Doesn’t make them special. Others join because they look forward to brutalizing people in foreign countries. Doesn’t seem worthy of free or reduced price housing.

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You're making a big assumption here, and it sounds like you don't spend that much time with vets. These groups are not mutually exclusive, and welcoming housing isn't a zero-sum game.

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So ... if you weren't physically able to serve you should be further discriminated against? If you were barred from active duty because women couldn't serve in combat until quite recently, you shouldn't get support from state tax dollars and community funds?

But I think your "hidden agenda" here is that if you were gay and told to go away you should be further barred from senior housing support because you aren't a veteran because you were discriminated against by not being allowed to serve?

Also consider that the gay witch hunts in the military were highly driven by people motivated to marginalize, exclude, and disincentivize enlistment by women of any preference. So women got pushed out/away by the anti-gay discrimination, too. More people to exclude with one simple "rule"!

That's compounding hate on hate, dear. Nice try to codify past injustice into a lifetime of discrimination ... using tax money from all of us.

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Until Biden fixed it, they were not eligible for benefits.

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of the comments here, and especially those of deselby, all I can say is that my favorite bumper sticker is "I'm Straight But Not Narrow"

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