This past week in Wilton Manors was the usual summer break for our City Commission, with the first commission meeting of August cancelled by vote of our Mayor and City Commissioners. While this was undoubtedly good news to city staff who also enjoyed a break from the usual build-up to a regularly scheduled commission meeting, it might be bad news for Robert Boo, CEO of the Pride Center.
Without any fresh city news, I am compelled to respond to Robert’s two-page accusations of “fake news” concerning my last Gazette article.
It is rather sad that Robert Boo has to stoop to the level of Donald Trump, accusing those who honestly question issues of importance as misleading “fake news.” There is nothing fake about Florida Statutes and Federal laws. Anyone who wants to know the truth can simply look them up. Keep an eye out for late-night Tweets concerning my “unfair and misleading accusations” as confirmation that Robert is unfortunately following Donald’s path of attacking those who have differencing opinions or dare to question.
This formula that Robert seems to have embraced is one that Donald Trump has perfected, but was laid out years earlier by Trump’s mentor, Roy Cohn. The formula goes like this: make up ‘fake news’, deliver it with a belligerent style, then repeat it, repeat it, and repeat it until your audience starts to believe it to be true.
Robert Boo can say it over and over again until he is blue in the face, but the LGBT Senior Affordable Housing project proposed for the Pride Center at Equality Park will not be as Robert stated, “that every single unit is for seniors, no one under 55 can live in the Residences.” This is simply not true, ‘55 and over’ communities do not restrict residency to only those 55 and over. That’s not ‘fake news’, that’s reality. Now if the Pride Center would embrace a '62 year and older’ designation, then their case for 100 percent senior housing would be laudably believable, since this is the only designation to fully restrict residency to actual seniors, those who are 62 years or older.
Nobody is questioning the Pride Center’s mission here in South Florida. We in the LGBT community take enormous pride in our community center, a 5.5 acre campus that many have struggled for and have supported over the years. Nobody is questioning the need for affordable housing for our seniors. What many in our community are questioning is whether or not we are really getting what the Pride Center is looking to sell us.
The Pride Center’s partner in this project is Carrfour Supportive Housing. We have no idea what the contractual obligations are between the Pride Center and Carrfour. What we do know is that the Pride Center will not be operating the Residences at Equality Park, Carrfour will. The press releases coming out of Carrfour seem to be more realistic and truthful.
According to Carrfour’s own CEO, “The apartments will be geared toward members of the LGBT community, but there is no requirement that a person must identify as an LGBT member to live there. According to the real estate trade publication Lesbian Real Estate News, “developers are also planning to address the homelessness epidemic of those with disabilities and illness, 34 apartments will be set aside to house individuals with these needs.”
The last thing I want to do is get into an ongoing public quarrel with Robert Boo. I have great respect for him, for the Pride Center, and for its mission here in our community. I also support affordable housing for seniors, along with a regional response to homelessness, those struggling with substance abuse, and others in need. I am simply asking some important questions that are being discussed by many in our community. As the process moves forward, hopefully we can stop with the sugar coating, the rhetoric, and the unfair accusations.
Speaking the truth, asking for clarification, and not attacking those who disagree will only make life better here.