Updated at 8:50 a.m. July 20
The Pryde, an affordable housing development planned for LGBTQ+ seniors in Boston's Hyde Park, hit a hurdle yesterday after House Republicans in an appropriations hearing voted to deny it federal funding.
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley had requested $2 million in federal funding to help finance the project, of which $850,000 made it onto the final appropriation bill. Fellow Democratic Reps. Brendan Boyle and Chrissy Houlahan had also sought federal funding for LGBTQ+ projects in Pennsylvania. House Republicans struck all three earmarks.
The Pryde, a $47 million project currently under construction, is slated to include 74 mixed-income rental units in addition to a public community center. A housing lottery is expected to be held in the fall, with the building to open within six months.
The federal earmark for The Pryde was intended to help with unexpected construction costs from renovating such an old building. But Gretchen Van Ness, executive director of LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., one of the groups behind The Pryde, said she is determined to find that additional capital one way or another.
"We are grateful for the support that we've received in the state budget," said Van Ness. "Rep. Rob Consalvo and state Sen. Liz Miranda have earmarked $250,000 for us in the state budget."
According to Van Ness, LGBTQ+ seniors are more likely to face discrimination and harassment in housing and need a welcoming and safe place to live.
“These are the folks that we owe everything to,” said Van Ness. “We stand on their shoulders, and they should be able to live with dignity and their full, authentic selves as they as they grow older.”
Pressley criticized yesterday’s decision by Republicans as an “act of blatant homophobia & hatred.”
“It is unconscionable that Republican committee members would hold senior citizen-specific housing hostage and continue their dangerous national trend of targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said in a statement. “This process is intended for our communities to advocate for projects that have the highest impact, and this move by Republicans is blatant homophobia designed to attack some of our most vulnerable seniors.”
Van Ness also said that yesterday’s decision to exclude LGBTQ+ projects from community project funding is unprecedented.
“If anything, people should see what happened to us yesterday as the reason why we're doing what we're doing,” said Van Ness. “We are not afraid of the work that we're doing. We're not afraid of this backlash. We are deeply, deeply committed to our community and to providing the kind of housing that we're building at The Pryde.”
Clarification: This story was updated to clarify the amount of funding Rep. Ayanna Pressley had requested for The Pryde.