[RELEASE] Project HOME Honors Legacy of Gloria Casarez, American Civil Rights Leader and LGBTQ Activist, Naming Newest Property in her Honor
PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 6, 2017) – Project HOME announced today its newest property will be named in honor of Gloria Casarez, Philadelphia’s first director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs and a passionate and committed advocate for justice and equality in our city. Casarez passed away in 2014. The property will be the first LGBTQ-friendly, young-adult-only permanent supportive housing in Pennsylvania.
“We lost a tireless and dynamic voice for human rights and a smart, compassionate public servant in 2014,” said Sister Mary Scullion, Project HOME co-founder and Executive Director. “Our work with Gloria started during the very beginnings of Project HOME’s founding and continued through her passing, when we worked with her as part of an LGBTQ homeless youth committee. It’s in honor of that work and her legacy that we have named our newest property the Gloria Casarez Residence, which will house young adults aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness in an LGBTQ-friendly environment.”
The success of the project is due largely to the leadership of Arthur Kaplan, Duane Perry, Mel Heifetz, John Alchin and Hal Maryatt, the Philadelphia Foundation and many other caring Philadelphians who have shown tremendous leadership and commitment to solving LGTBQ youth homelessness.
“Without the strategic leadership of these key partners, this project would not have been realized,” said Sister Mary. “We have a strong LGBTQ community in Philadelphia, and they too believe that homelessness is not inevitable and is solvable in our lifetime.”
The Gloria Casarez Residence is the sixth project funded by MPOWER, a Project HOME community investment partnership that’s multiplying the impact of Project HOME’s proven approaches to breaking the cycle of homelessness. The partnership focuses on revitalizing entire communities, including building new homes and programs to support the vulnerable individuals of today and tomorrow and breaking the cycle of homelessness for young adults.
About the Gloria Casarez Home Groundbreaking
A groundbreaking celebration for the new property at 1315 8th St. will be held on Dec. 6, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. The ceremony will include remarks from Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Pennsylvania State Representative W. Curtis Thomas, Pennsylvania State Representative Lawrence Farnese, Project HOME Board Members Leigh and John Middleton, Project HOME co-founders Joan McConnon and Sister Mary Scullion and Jessie Keel, a young adult resident at Project HOME’s Ruth Williams House.
“We’re thrilled to be able to move forward with this crucial project after such a long, uncertain process,” said Project HOME Vice President of Development and Communications Annette Jeffrey. “It shows just how much passionate individuals and communities can accomplish – what we call the ‘Power of We.’ Thanks to tireless efforts and support from the City of Philadelphia, Arthur Kaplan and Duane Perry, the William Penn Foundation and many others we will have the first LGBTQ-friendly housing for young adults in the state.”
Development of the Gloria Casarez Residence
Project HOME contracted to purchase the property from North Philadelphia Health System (NPHS). Late last year, NPHS filed for bankruptcy, disrupting the planned sale. Reed Smith provided pro bono services to help Project HOME navigate the court process after additional bids were submitted for the land. On Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Magdeline D. Coleman approved the sale of the property to Project HOME.
The new property will be developed in two phases. The first building will consist of 30 units of LGBTQ-friendly housing for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system and/or are homeless. The second building will provide 40 units of affordable housing for adults who have experienced homelessness.
The 36,547-square-foot building will include a community room that will open out to a courtyard of a size sufficient to host indoor and outdoor events and programming for residents and the larger community. Programming is slated to include art program activities, classes, and shows, community conversations, “potlatches”, advocacy committee meetings and other activities in partnership with area organizations.
“Nationally, young adult homelessness is on the rise, and an estimated 40% of homeless young adults identify as LGBTQ. Through the Neubauer Catalyst for Young Adults Program, Project HOME currently serves more than 50 young adults living primarily at JBJ Soul Homes, Francis House of Peace, and Ruth Williams House,” said Leigh Middleton, MPOWER founding member and partner. “The Gloria Casarez Residence will provide homes and support for an additional 30 young people and offer a central location for the program with outdoor space, a community room with a kitchenette, laundry, exercise space, storage, bike room, and meeting and office space for residential services.”
The Gloria Casarez Residence is made possible through the support of public and private partners with a substantial award from the City of Philadelphia. It was established with support from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, TD Bank, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Philadelphia Housing Authority, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, City of Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Leigh and John Middleton, John Alchin and Hal Marryatt, William Penn Foundation, Arthur Kaplan and Duane Perry, Mel Heifetz, Aileen and Brian Roberts, Ira Lubert and Pam Estadt and The Philadelphia Foundation.
MPOWER is a Project HOME Community Investment Partnership drawing on a powerful network of people and ideas that multiplies Project HOME’s impact in five key areas: investments, relationships, resources, advocacy, and evidence In just five years, the partnership’s impact multiplier model has leveraged $20 million into $200 million which has helped to provide services to more than 15,000 people, including ending chronic street homelessness for more than 800 people.
About Project HOME
Since 1989, Project HOME has helped thousands of people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of care that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment through both adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs and community-based health care services at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center. Project HOME and its partners have pledged to end chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia, housing 2,200 people – 1,000 people who have been long-term street homeless, 200 youth who are homeless and/or aging out of foster care, and 1,000 people who are homeless on the street and addicted but ready for recovery and work.