Spirit of Generosity: ARTHUR KAPLAN AND DUANE PERRY
Arthur Kaplan and Duane Perry had a lot in common when they first met. Not only were they both passionate about LGBTQ rights, fair housing, and equity for individuals in poverty, they each had done meaningful work with Project HOME. Duane first met Sister Mary Scullion before she co-founded Project HOME. She was working at the Women of Hope residence, and Duane was working with the Colt Coalition in North Philadelphia, a community development corporation helping low-income people in Philadelphia to secure affordable housing and connect to services. Arthur met Sister Mary 25 years ago when his law firm, Fine, Kaplan and Black, RPC, was co-counsel for Project HOME in its landmark federal court decision asserting fair housing rights.
Now working together, Arthur and Duane are breaking ground with Project HOME yet again. “We first brought the idea of building supportive housing for LGBTQ young adults to Sister Mary in July of 2014,” said Duane. “We were aware of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who were homeless and we believed we could do something about it.”
“We also met with leaders at The Attic, Mazzoni Center, and William Way LGBT Community Center,” shared Arthur, “and, with the leadership of Mel Heifetz, we were able to speak with Mayor Nutter, Mayor Kenney, Senator Casey, Congressman Evans, and Governor Wolf. The result of that outreach was $3.5 million in City funding and $3 million in funding by the Commonwealth. Without that funding, this project wouldn't have been possible.”
Arthur, Duane, and Mel added many other leaders to their ranks, including John Alchin and Hal Marryatt. Together, they donated, advocated, networked, fought to secure the site – and persevered. And on December 6, 2017, Project HOME broke ground on Gloria Casarez Residence, the first LGBTQ-friendly young adult permanent supportive housing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This 30-unit building is named for Gloria Casarez, the city’s first director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs, who passed away in 2014 after a long battle with cancer.
“We want to expand a safety-net of services to the point that there will be housing, education, and jobs for all homeless youth,” said Duane. “The resilience of these kids is what impressed us the most. We met young people who managed to finish high school and complete Job Corps, all despite being homeless. On top of that, they took the initiative to be first in line for Project HOME housing,” he added.
Project HOME began its Young Adult Program through a transformational gift from the Neubauer Family Foundation. Beginning with an eight-unit pilot program at the JBJ Soul Homes in 2014, the program now has 53 young adults enrolled.
“These kids are our future,” said Arthur. “We want to level the playing field so that these kids have the same opportunities that many of us take for granted.”
Project HOME is deeply grateful for Arthur’s and Duane’s leadership over the past thirty years. Their initiative, generosity, and spirit of collaboration continue to create groundbreaking opportunities for all.