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Finding Community Even in a Pandemic

It was a relief, he said, to only be responsible for paying $566 a month for his studio apartment at Stonewall House. The affordable housing development, a partnership between BFC Partners, three city housing agencies and SAGE, a nonprofit for L.G.B.T.Q. elders, has 145 units for seniors earning less than 50 percent of area median income. It is the largest development of its kind in the country.

“I wasn’t sure how I’d adjust to this place,” Mr. Meehan said. “Going from living with five people to just you? But I’m very happy here.”

Although, he added, he’s hardly been alone. “I live on the phone a great deal,” Mr. Meehan said. “I have a tremendous group of people who sustain me, watch out for me. I spend a lot of time Zoom conferencing, I love Facebook, live on Facebook. I’m very seldom totally by myself.”

He has also seen his former roommates from Jackson Heights, who came by to help him hang pictures and put together the large desk he ordered from Wayfair. The desk is where he spends the majority of his time in the apartment.

Opposite the desk is a Murphy bed — a gift from a friend. “It gives me almost a second room,” he said. “At night, I move the chair over to the side and in three minutes I have a sleeping area.”

And, of course, there are his new neighbors. While social activities have been curtailed, there’s still Zoom and the sidewalk in front of the building. With two other residents, Mr. Meehan started a tenants’ association. So far the association has secured a bus stop on the building’s corner and convinced management to open up the three terraces in the building, which were closed all spring and summer because of the coronavirus.

“As someone living alone, I have my morning coffee up there, read the paper,” Mr. Meehan said. “Covid is a downside for us — we haven’t been able to open up the community room, but we’re gelling nicely.”

“It’s going to be nice when you see people’s faces finally,” he added. “Like a masquerade party.”

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