David James has been working in property management his whole life. His experience working in senior living and supportive housing developments have been a perfect avenue for one as compassionate and caring as David. Working for Heartland Alliance’s Town Hall Apartments has been a particularly special time for him, serving LGBTQ seniors at a time in their life when community is most important.
How did you get into this work?
When I moved to Chicago, I was living in Uptown. There are a lot of homeless individuals – and a lot of homeless seniors – in Uptown. I’ve been involved with the church for a long time, and spent a lot of time performing outreach with those individuals. I’ve also spent time running SROs and serving those who are housing insecure for a very long time.
Why is this work important to the community and those we serve?
Here at Town Hall apartments, we’re providing LGBTQ-friendly housing for aging seniors. Oftentimes, we see that when people in the community get older, they have to go back into the closet to adapt to the structure and – frankly – the prejudices of some living spaces catered to aging people.
The other part of supportive housing is the support part. We partner with Center on Halsted for our supportive services – and they provide case managers ready to provide services and support for our population. We have a very long wait list for our place, and there just aren’t enough places like Town Hall.
Was there a moment where you knew you were in the right job?
I came out three years ago. So I’m relatively new to the community, and I wanted to grow and thrive in a space that was gay friendly. I had spent a little bit of time around Heartland Alliance during my service years in Uptown, and I knew of their clinic and their services there on the north side. When I applied, I saw the need for a property manager right here in Boystown serving this population. This is the best job I’ve ever had, and these are the best residents I’ve ever had. It really felt like destiny right from the beginning.
What is your favorite part of your job?
That’s easy – the residents. I love hearing their stories and connecting with the people I work for. I’m a strong believer that all of us have a story – and listening is the most important part of connection. When you listen to others stories, you realize that we’re not that different. That’s community.
How can others get involved in your work?
Because this is LGBTQ friendly work, it’s important to stay in touch with the concerns and issues of those in the community. Especially in the current climate, there are a lot of challenges from the policy end. Check out Heartland Alliance’s policy work, follow the Human Rights Campaign or other LGBTQ advocacy groups, and be the change.