Philly LGBTQ community center to get multimillion-dollar facelift

William Way Center gets much-needed help to provide crucial resources for thousands
William Way LGBT Community Center
William Way LGBT Community Center Photo credit Eric Walter./KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — “This room, for the first time in decades, is the right temperature.”

A grant from the commonwealth has enabled a much-needed upgrade to the HVAC system at the William Way LGBT Community Center, in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, said Executive Director Chris Bartlett on Monday.

And now, thanks to an additional $3.5 million in grants from the state and the William Penn Foundation, the center will be able to expand its facilities so it can better provide support services and cultural experiences for thousands of people, Bartlett said.

“Whether that’s our commitment to seniors through our elder initiative, our direct support for transgender Philadelphians through the Trans Resource Center, or our nationally known archives of LGBT history, we’re building a container that will provide space for the needs of our communities both now and for decades to come,” Bartlett said.

A new office tower will house the center’s growing programs, Bartlett said, “and provide plenty of space for long-term leases and rentals for community groups and small businesses.”

Gov. Tom Wolf was on hand Tuesday for the grant announcement from the state and the William Penn Foundation. It will pair with a $1 million one that came from the state earlier this year to help repair the building's HVAC system.

“We still have work to do. We still need non-discrimination in Pennsylvania, but this is really, really an important step in the direction of full and complete equality in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

According to Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a statewide LGBTQ organization, just 71 of more than 2,500 municipalities, and three counties out of 67, have an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in private employment, housing and public accommodations, but no such statewide protections are have been enacted by the General Assembly.

The grants will help William Way continue to help save lives by providing an essential network for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, said Kara Kinsman, chair of the center’s board.

“William Way nurtures the mind and the soul. This cultural institution has offered, for 47 years now, a venue for LGBT Philadelphians to find affirmations and fellowship,” Kinsman said.

Demolition and construction for the latest project is scheduled to start next year.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Eric Walter./KYW Newsradio