Q & A with Peter Johnson, Director of Public Relations at Center on Halsted, Chicago

April 2014 | Peter Johnson

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 Center on Halsted, in partnership with Heartland Alliance, is in the process of constructing LGBTQ – Friendly Senior Housing.  Can you tell us more about the project? This LGBTQ Friendly Housing will be truly pioneering, as it will be one of the first in the Midwest of its kind.  The project will consist of 79 units and will be a mix of studios and one-bedroom apartments.  The newly constructed apartment building will be connected to a historic town-hall police station which will be renovated to provide community space for the residents of the building and will also be the new home of Center on Halsted Senior Programs. 

 As this is a joint project between Center on Halsted and Heartland Alliance, can you tell us more about each agency and clarify what their role will be in this housing? Center on Halsted is the Midwest's most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland.    Center on Halsted Senior Programs serves over 500 seniors a year and offers a variety of programs and services for this population.  In this venture, Center on Halsted will act as the social service provider, responsible for providing services and programs to the residents. 

 Heartland Alliance is the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest.  Heartland Housing, Heartland Alliance’s Housing Division, is a leader in developing and managing affordable housing in the Midwest. Heartland Housing has developed and managed more than 1,700 affordable homes across the Chicago region and Midwest.  For this project, Heartland Housing will be the property manager. 

How is the project funded? The project is funded through a variety of sources including the low income housing tax credit, City of Chicago HOME Investment Partnerships Program¸ Equity from the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit, Historic Tax Credit and Energy Efficiency Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, among other sources

What is the timeline for the completion of the project? The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014. 

What are the requirements to live in the housing? Seniors must be over the age of 55 and meet the financial criteria to qualify for affordable housing. To be clear, this project will follow all Fair Housing Laws and will not discriminate in any way.

How is this project different from the other LGBTQ Senior Housing developments across the country? Through a Supportive Housing grant from the state of Illinois, this project will offer intensive case management services to the residents.  The goals of these case management services will be to assist residents with increasing their financial stability, providing referrals to improve their health and well-being, and assisting residents in remaining connected to the larger community.

Will this housing meet the housing needs of LGBTQ people of Chicagoland?There will continue to be a critical need for housing for LGBTQ Friendly Senior Housing in the Chicagoland area.  We will continue to advocate for additional LGBTQ Friendly Senior Housing developments while also working to improve the quality of services provided to this community by mainstream service providers.

If someone is interested in learning more about this project who should they contact? For more information, please contact Megan Jackson or Jonathan Tague, Center on Halsted Senior Services Case Managers at mjackson@centeronhalsted.org or jtague@centeronhalsted.org or by calling 773.472.6469


Peter Johnson is the Director of Public Relations at Center on Halsted. Peter is a graduate of Brown University and has worked to aid the missions of a number of cultural non-profit organizations, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Illinois Humanities Council. Before moving to Chicago, Peter worked in Iraqi Kurdistan on an archaeological project in the digital humanities. In his current role at Center on Halsted, Peter manages all external and community affairs, communications, and marketing.