Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow, senior minister and teacher of Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit (MCC-D), announced at last Sunday’s service that the church was partnering with Affirmations and SAGE Metro Detroit to bring affordable LGBTQ-friendly housing for older adults to Ferndale. The three groups are working in conjunction with Full Circle Properties and have recently secured tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
“We started this process back in 2018, and it has taken this long to find the right property,” Stringfellow told Pride Source. “Receiving these credits is crossing a huge hurdle in obtaining the funding for this project. There’s still more hurdles to jump over because we have not purchased the property yet. But that is what we are eying.”
Stringfellow declined to give the address of the potential property. He was happy, however, to talk about the vision of the project.
“The key thing about this is it’s going to be affordable housing, unlike The James, which is at market rate,” he said, referring to the luxury senior apartment complex already in the city. “None of these units will be at market rate. It will be affordable for low-income seniors.”
Once converted to residential units, the building will be named the Raymond E. Shepherd House or The Shepherd House for short.
“Raymond was a longstanding member of MCC-D and a frequent visitor to Affirmations,” Stringfellow said. “He also utilized some of the services at SAGE Metro Detroit, so he is an individual that kind of captures those three communities, and it made sense to name the building after him.”
Inside the house, there will be a room usable by all three organizations named after local artist and longtime Between The Lines columnist Charles Alexander.
“MCC-D will have worship services there also,” said Stringfellow. “And the room, itself, will be dedicated to displaying art from local LGBTQ artists.”
The groups hope to have the building purchased by this fall and have set a target opening date in late 2023.
“We know that there’s a lot of need in our community, especially for older adults, to have affirming housing,” said Kathleen Redmon, director of programs for Affirmations.
“As older LGBTQ adults age, many of them lose resources and have to go back in the closet. So having a place that is affirming, that has resources and programming on-site can make them feel supported.
“To have their needs met is essential,” Redmon continued. “We’re hoping that this is a great opportunity to meet the needs of our community and create some solid infrastructure for people to access.”