LGBTQ-friendly Retirement Community Welcomes Cleveland Resident in Transition
Last year, Kevin Borowiak left a relationship and was forced out of his three-bedroom home. The upheaval left him contemplating apartment living for the first time in three decades, and he was apprehensive about his options.
Borowiak faced health problems, had limited income and no immediate family nearby. He reached out to the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland seeking a housing referral.
They suggested A Place for Us, a diverse, inclusive LGBTQ retirement community, and put him in touch with Linda Krasienko, president of A Place for Us Development.
Krasienko worked for some 20 years to design an inclusive complex that would welcome a diverse clientele and provide them with services they would require as they aged. A Place for Us ended up being a good fit for Borowiak.
Soon, he had the keys to his new home. It’s in a unique setting, and has amenities that go beyond those of a traditional apartment building to meet the needs of its residents over the age of 55, including an on-site health clinic offering HIV testing and a variety of support groups.
“The biggest reason I moved in was because I could afford it, plain and simple,” says Borowiak, 60, who has been on disability with chronic health issues for 15 years. “But I’ve found that it’s a very nice complex, and I’m an aesthetic person so I appreciated the fact that I was able to re-paint the walls and customize the space to my tastes.”
Borowiak said A Place for Us’ proximity to public transportation was important, since he doesn’t own a car. And, located near the border of Cleveland and Lakewood, it’s also within walking distance of grocery stores, retail shopping and dining options.
Borowiak initially thought there would be more LGBTQ seniors at A Place for Us, but he has nonetheless made friends and finds the overall atmosphere of the complex to be what he calls "a nice mix."
“It’s very comfortable, safe and secure with a lot of amenities,” says Borowiak, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment. “Those things were important to me.”
Born in St. Louis, Borowiak moved to Cleveland 37 years ago to take a job as a chemist with General Electric. He later worked in the catering field and eventually returned to school to earn a master’s degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in nursing while also obtaining his high school teaching certification.
He taught science in public and alternative high schools in the Shaker Heights area, but 15 years ago he was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune problems. When the disorders flare up, he is left incapacitated, although currently he is in remission.
His health problems made it important to find a place like A Place for Us, which offers more than the standard support for those with specific needs.
Krasienko said earlier this year that it was A Place of Us’ ability to offer additional services for residents like Borowiak that pushed her desire to make the complex a reality. The facility, which was financed by KeyBank, now serves as a model for inclusive living both in Ohio and nationally.
The complex is designed to accommodate about 55 residents and has a library, computer center and garden terrace designed to host group activities.
It’s also equipped with an elevator, something that immediately caught Borowiak’s eye.
“That’s something I really appreciated after living in a two-story house for a long time,” Borowiak says.
“Honestly it wasn’t easy at first to make the transition back to an apartment,” he says. “It’s different in that your neighbors are right there, so that took some getting used to. But to be able to move into a place that’s brand new is kind of a wild experience. It’s fun. It’s yours from the get-go, and I like that.”