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Nation's First LGBTQ+ senior housing project celebrates 10 year anniversary in Philadelphia

The nation's first LGBTQIA+ Senior Housing Project Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary in Philadelphia
The nation's first LGBTQIA+ Senior Housing Project Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary in Philadelphia 02:29

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Thirty years ago, Mary Groce and Suz Atlas found their harmony together after finding their way to each other.

"There's that line by the Indigo Girls now that I know what it means to be free," said Groce. "Loving you means I know what it means to be free."

They moved to the John C. Anderson Apartments, the nation's first LGBTQ + senior housing project located in Philadelphia's Gayborhood seven years ago.

"Once we heard about it, we knew we wanted to be here. It would be the only place we'd be safe in our elder years," said Atlas.

CBS News Philadelphia

Groce is in her 70s and Atlas is in her early 80s. Together they have seven children from previous marriages and six grandchildren.

"We met each other at a lesbian coming out group," said Groce. "Back then [some] people would hate us just because we were out from the time we met. There was no doubt, they didn't have to say, 'Those are two lesbians.'"

Both have experienced many forms of discrimination.

According to an Equal Rights Center report, older same-sex couples applying for senior housing have experienced discrimination. Half of single LGBTQ+ seniors fear they will have to work well beyond retirement age due to concerns about not having enough money to live on.

CBS News Philadelphia

For Groce and Atlas, health and finances led them to look for housing after both no longer could work.

"We knew instantly when they said senior LGBT housing and the rents were affordable," said Groce.

The John C. Anderson Apartments is now celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Groce and Atlas said it's been their community and sanctuary and has brought them balance in their golden years that will forever remain in harmony.

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