On Tuesday, August 6, the Montrose Center broke ground on Law Harrington Senior Living Center, its affordable senior independent living center at 2222 Cleburne Street. With a massive turnout of more than 175 people at the groundbreaking, the Montrose Center was overwhelmed with the amount of support from community members.
“The excitement for this project was clearly demonstrated by the crowd that attended the groundbreaking,” said Kennedy Loftin, chief development officer at the Montrose Center. “Seeing hundreds of community members from Montrose and Third Ward as well as seniors brave the heat so they could be here to witness the groundbreaking is truly inspiring.”
Housing is one of the greatest financial challenges, and correspondingly, one of the greatest needs for older adults across the nation, especially LGBTQ seniors. LGBTQ seniors are twice as likely to age in social isolation and four times less likely to have the money needed for retirement in comparison to their heterosexual peers. As in Montrose, many long-time senior residents of Third Ward are seeing their rents and property taxes increase beyond their means.
The Law Harrington Senior Living Center will be open to all seniors who meet the income guidelines, but will have specific services and programming for LGBTQ seniors and seniors living with HIV. The facility will be an affordable, LGBTQ affirming senior living center that will feature 112 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments for low-income individuals and couples who are 62 years and older. The building itself is estimated to open in 2021. Eligible seniors who live in the center will not spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
Additional features of the property will include a social services department managed by the Montrose Center, geriatric primary care clinic provided by Legacy Community Health, a group dining area, meeting and game rooms, a fitness center, dog park, vegetable garden, and outdoor recreational spaces.
The Center is excited by the amount of support received from all partners, and could not have pursued this project without the tremendous financial support from the community that allowed the Center to secure the donation of the land and make the project viable. The Center is grateful for the donation of the 2.87 acre lot from the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, allowing the Center to build a facility large enough to meet the needs of seniors being priced out of their neighborhoods. Although the Center is celebrating an important milestone and beginning the construction, fundraising for the project continues.
Speakers at the ceremony included Ann Robison, PhD, executive director of the Montrose Center; Tom McCasland, director of the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department; Mayor Sylvester Turner, City of Houston; Abe Goren, Midtown Redevelopment Authority board member; Garnet F. Coleman, State Representative from the 147th District; Annise Parker, former Mayor of Houston and president and chief executive officer of the Victory Fund; Dwight Boykins, City of Houston Council Member from District D; J Reymundo Ocañas, executive vice president, and director of communications and responsible business at BBVA; and Gretchen Myers, board chair of the Montrose Center.
Guests in attendance included Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo; Anna Babin; Terrance P. Bagott; Katy Caldwell, executive director at Legacy Community Health Services; Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman; Nancy Kinder, president and chief executive officer of The Kinder Foundation; City of Houston Council Member Mike Laster; U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, Tom McCasland, City of Houston Housing and Community Development director; Brian Riedel, associate director of Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University; Mike Webb, Houston GLBT president; architect Terry Smith; Gary Wood, Montrose Center board member; and many others.
“This is a major day in the city of Houston. It is our mission to create safe and affordable communities where all people can live and thrive. On June 12, the city council voted unanimously to allocate $5.1 million in TIRZ funds to this project. There is no better testament to community investment than to ensure the vibrancy of seniors in our community. The Law Harrington Senior Living Center exemplifies the diversity and collaborative spirit of this great city and I am thrilled that it is being constructed in the Third Ward, which is one of the ten Complete Communities that I have identified. These are neighborhoods where we are working with residents, private industry, nonprofits, and others to serve under-resourced areas. By offering opportunities like affordable housing, we are investing in historically underrepresented areas, and it is important to make sure that everyone within our community has a place they can call home. This is a historic, great day and I want to thank the leaders here today for your vision.”
“What an inspiration the Law Harrington Senior Living Center is. I’m just so inspired because seniors are precious. They have contributed to the building of this nation and the seniors that will have the opportunity to live in this center will be cross cultural from the LGBTQ community, affirming them to be able to live with their families without discrimination together with historic families from the African American community. For me that is very special and I’m delighted that this is a partnership between local funds, the TIRZ funds, and federal tax credits. I have advocated for these tax credits and believe that they are a constructive part of building America’s housing response. Housing in America is at a great shortage for seniors and people of low and middle income. We need to continue to support affordable housing. The combination of Montrose and Third Ward is a perfect fit to bring communities together. Congratulations to the Montrose Center for the great work and partnership they are doing for all of us.”
Former City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president