After less than a month as building manager at John C. Anderson Apartments, Charles Carroll said it has been “very rewarding” to be among a community of LGBTQ people close to his age. The 62-year-old noted the mutual feelings between himself and residents at the Gayborhood-based LGBTQ-friendly senior apartment complex.
“They feel wanted by me and I feel very much wanted and enriched by them,” Carroll said of working in the building, a project that Pennrose Properties and the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund (dmhFund) spearheaded back in 2014.
Carroll took over the role, which has been vacant for about a year, on Nov. 30. Mark Segal, dmhFund president, said the group was “delighted to have such a well-qualified and experienced out member of our community apply for the position.” The dmhFund also ensured to get opinions from the actual people Carroll would work with.
“While our board was impressed with him, we took the extra step of asking him to meet with residents at JCAA, who were as delighted with him as we were,” said Segal, who also serves as PGN publisher. “It’s a tall order managing JCAA since he now has in his hands one of the treasures of our community: Our LGBT seniors.”
Carroll is no stranger to property management. He has been working with Pennrose since 2018 and prior to that, he worked with Columbus Property Management and Project HOME. While working with the latter, Carroll said he learned more about how affordable housing should not equal substandard housing.
“You can’t escape the cycle of poverty if you’re living in substandard housing,” he said.
Carroll said Project HOME, which provides housing and resources for homeless and low-income people in Philadelphia, made him more knowledgeable about logistical issues, such as the need for home furnishings in low-income housing. However, he also noted what he thought was most important.
“It starts with keeping in mind that what you’re undertaking is for people,” he said. “My bosses at Pennrose are very fond of saying, ‘Would you let your mother live in this apartment?’ They want to hold themselves to that standard. I think there are creative, financial solutions out there that allow you to build better housing without cutting corners.”
Carroll also said he is doing research about improving conditions at John C. Anderson Apartments, including the price of laundry at the complex, which he heard anecdotes about while meeting with residents. He said this was one example of how people often have to choose between choosing to pay rent and other basic-living necessities.
“There are a lot of people out there who are forced to make choices between paying the rent or eating,” Carroll said. “It’s a very difficult decision.”
“You shouldn’t have to settle for housing,” he added. “If you get your housing under control, you can start addressing other things in your life: Your [physical] health, your mental health, and your job.”
Carroll said he will continue to use this empathetic approach when it comes to helping potential residents.
“I approach [my work] with more understanding of what people are going through,” Carroll said. “I listen to what they’re saying about what they can and cannot do. And all of that gets processed in my little mind.”
Carroll said he will be coordinating logistics around the office first but once that’s taken care of, he looks forward to focusing on building more interpersonal relationships with residents.
“I am really looking forward to making [the role] my own,” he said.