Heifetz was key to identifying the need and providing early philanthropic support to address the problem of LGBTQ youth homelessness. An instrumental early supporter, he helped to break ground on Project HOME’s new Gloria Casarez Residence, which will provide 30 LGBTQ-friendly affordable homes for young adults who are homeless, have experienced, or are at risk of homelessness, including those aging out of foster care.
Additionally, he formed a sustaining relationship with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which stems from a time when a coffeehouse owned by Heifetz – known for welcoming all people, including interracial and gay couples – was shut down by local police; ACLU attorneys defended Heifetz.
Born to working class Jewish parents, he began cleaning his parents’ hair salon and selling household products door-to-door with his father at age 9. An Eagle Scout, he later offered to buy the Boy Scouts of America’s Philadelphia headquarters for $1.5 million, at a time when the national Scouting organization excluded gays, so that the building could be given to a nonprofit that does not discriminate. Heifetz joined the Army at age 18 and was stationed in Germany; upon his return, he studied real estate for one year at Temple University.
Over his professional career, Heifetz has built several successful hospitality and residential businesses. He opened the city’s first gay hotel, The Alexander Inn, and owned three of the most prominent gay and lesbian bars in Philadelphia, as well as hotel and bar properties in Key West, Florida.
Among numerous community honors, he received the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year award from the William Way Center and the 2008 Equality Award from the Philadelphia Human Rights Campaign.