Cincinnati's first LGBTQ+-friendly affordable senior housing community, Apple Street Senior, is being renamed John Arthur Flats in honor of John Montgomery Arthur, the late husband of Jim Obergefell, who was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage in America.
The project at the former Save-A-Lot location at 4145 Apple St. is a collaboration between neighborhood community development corporation Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation (NEST) and national developer Pennrose.
There will be 57 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments in the development for seniors making 30% to 60% of the Area Median Income, with rents ranging from $379 per month to $1,050 per month, says NEST.
The Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio and Pennrose will provide on-site supportive services for residents. AIDS service nonprofit Caracole will also provide services to residents who need them, and the project will have a referral relationship with Churches Active in Northside for residents who need social services and other aid.
"I’m incredibly touched that NEST has chosen to remember and honor my late husband John in this way. John had dreams of doing something grand to benefit Cincinnati but was never able to do that because of his ALS diagnosis,” says Obergefell in a release. “NEST has made John’s dream come true, and I’m confident he would be honored to be remembered in this way, especially when this project benefits the oft-overlooked community of LGBTQ+ elders."
In 2013, after Arthur was diagnosed with ALS, the couple flew on a medically equipped plan to Maryland, where they were married on the tarmac. After Arthur died three months later, Obergefell sued Ohio in order to be listed as the spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. It was this court case that led to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.
The community room at John Arthur Flats will also be named for another local LGBTQ+ trailblazer. The “Maureen Wood Community Room” is named in honor of Wood, a resident of Northside who owned the iconic Crazy Ladies Bookstore and taught home repair classes for single women and mothers. She passed away in 2017.
“We are grateful to everyone who has worked diligently to create, plan and build this project," says Sarah Thomas, Executive Director with NEST. "We celebrate the opportunity to honor meaningful people like John Arthur and Maureen Wood who are no longer with us but have surely left profound impacts throughout their lives."
In addition to social services, the complex will include access to a fitness center, outdoor terrace and a community space, as well as parking and laundry.
“LGBTQ older adults continue to face higher rates of poverty and housing discrimination, and we have made it a priority to create innovative housing solutions to help address this issue,” says the Principal and Senior Vice President of Pennrose, Tomothy I. Henkel.
Residents of the building must be above the age of 55, but do not have to be LGBTQ to live there. Management staff, service providers and others related to the project will receive LGBTQ cultural competency training.
John Arthur Flats is located at 4145 Apple St., Northside. Construction is slated to be complete in 2022, according to the NEST website. Visit northsidenest.org/apple-street-senior for more.