Groundbreaking shelter for LGBT homeless opening in the Mission

By Junior Mayema,

i hope this shelter will help LGBT refugees, asylees and asylum seekers who are on the streets right now or moving from place to place after weeks or months  without being 100 percent sure or certain on where and when to settle down, at least until they get their paperworks sorted and find a job with good salary and insurance to afford living in San Francisco.

When Jayson Dowker moved to San Francisco a year and a half ago, he had no job and nowhere to live. His first night in a shelter underscored the challenges for him as a transgender man. A staff member asked Dowker, loud enough for others to hear, “Oh, you’re trans?”

Jazzie’s Place, First Adult LGBTQ Shelter in U.S., Opens in San Francisco

Jazzie’s Place, the first shelter in the country for the adult LGBTQ community, opened Wednesday morning in the Mission District.

Operated by Dolores Street Community Services, and funded by both the city and private donations, Jazzie’s Place seeks to be a safe haven from the fear and violence that the city’s LGBTQ homeless population routinely experiences.

The shelter, which has spaces for female identifying, male identifying and non-conforming guests, is also an homage to Jazzie Collins, a transgender activist and vice chair of San Francisco’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force who passed away in 2013, according to the Chronicle.

Jazzie’s Place, at 1050 S. Van Ness St., has just 24 beds and is already operating a waitlist for them, but the mission to provide hope and a fresh start stretches beyond the physical space.

“The broader impact is really, in a very concrete way, demonstrating the need for LGBT-focused safety net services, and really bringing those needs out of the shadows and casting light on those in our community who are suffering,” Brian Basinger, director of AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco, told Bay Area Reporter.

 I am not subscribed to this website so i can’t read this but you can read it now and see if you can donate to this  human rights work of generation to protect LGBT people that are being ostracized in society and considered societal outcasts, i hope this shelter will help LGBT refugees, asylees and asylum seekers who are on the streets right now or moving from place to place after weeks or month  without being 100 percent sure on where and when to settle down :

Opening date set
for LGBT shelter

An opening date for a long-awaited homeless shelter in San Francisco specifically designed to be safe for LGBT adults has been set for Wednesday, June 17.

After more than five years of permit, funding, and other delays, word came last week that the 24-bed space at 1050 South Van Ness Avenue is almost ready.

Brian Basinger, who’s pushed for the shelter for years and is the director of AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco, announced the opening date in a Facebook post Friday May 22.

The shelter will be called Jazzie’s Place, after Jazzie Collins, a transgender woman who advocated for housing, seniors, and other issues and died in 2013. Dolores Street Community Services, which already operates a shelter at the South Van Ness site, will also run the LGBT shelter, which is located in a renovated space at the building.

Advocates and elected officials have been pushing for the shelter since a March 2010 Board of Supervisors hearing in which several LGBTs told of harassment they had experienced at the city’s shelters.

Since then, the project has been mired in city bureaucracy, with many of the hurdles related to obtaining permits from city agencies. Additionally, money for the project was slow to come, despite the relatively small amount needed.

In an interview Friday, Basinger said the impact of Jazzie’s Place for residents “is beyond just the safe, dignified, and welcoming shelter for the individuals who’ll be accessing those services. The broader impact is really, in a very concrete way, demonstrating the need for LGBT-focused safety net services, and really bringing those needs out of the shadows and casting light on those in our community who are suffering.”

Basinger referred to the most recently available census data on homeless people in the city. In June 2013, the biennial homeless point-in-time data were released and, for the first time, included statistics on LGBT people. The report found that out of a total of 7,350 homeless people, more than one in four (29 percent) identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or “other,” for a total of 2,132.

“Once again, San Francisco will be leading the way for the nation,” Basinger said, but “29 percent of the city’s homeless population is LGBT,” and the shelter has only 24 beds.

“Hopefully we can use that as an advocacy tool to continue to demand our fair share,” he said.

Lottery system

Basinger indicated details haven’t been finalized for the June 17 grand opening, but he said shelter residents will move into the space that night.

Residents will be selected through a lottery system.

In response to emailed questions, Dolores Street Executive Director Wendy Phillips said the details of that process “are still being worked out, so we are not releasing this information publicly yet. We are shooting for June 8 as the first day people can start entering” the lottery.

Phillips said residents will be able to stay for up to 90 days and may be able to extend that an additional 30 days.

People “who are not selected in the initial lottery will remain on a waitlist and will be contacted when a slot opens up,” she said.

In order to be included in the lottery, people first have to have a profile in the city’s centralized shelter database and be tested for tuberculosis, Basinger said. He said people could start those processes at Mission Neighborhood Resource Center at 165 Capp Street. That information couldn’t be confirmed with the agency Friday.

Jazzie’s Place will include bunk beds and bathrooms and is separated into three gender-specific mini pods. Partitions separate the beds. The gender categories will be male, female, and non-conforming, and there will be eight beds available in each.

“When someone signs up for the waitlist, they will be able to select which space or spaces they would like to stay in,” Phillips said. “However, the male-identified and female-identified spaces would only be for male-identified or female-identified individuals.”

Dolores Street’s shelter space has three rooms. Two of those spaces will house the current population, “which is all men,” Phillips said. The new LGBT space will operate in the third room.

Each of the three rooms “will have one shelter monitor at a time,” she said.

” … We have been and continue to focus on hiring LGBT individuals for all shelter monitor positions, and our goal will be to assign an LGBT person to the LGBT space. Hiring is still in process for new staff to accommodate the expansion,” Phillips said.

The $163,000 in operating funding for the LGBT space comes from the city’s Human Services Agency and will be combined with Dolores Street’s current contract to operate its other three shelters, Phillips said.

The shelter can’t deny access to non-LGBTs based on their orientation.

Basinger said they’re working to make clear to people “what the shelter is, and the kind of environment we’re creating there, but there’s no way you can – or would we want to – deny somebody access to shelter because they’re not LGBT. It’s in the affirmative marketing.”

‘A passageway’

Housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who like Basinger has been advocating for the shelter for years, said, “We’ve taken a lot of pains to make sure this is going to be a safe space for LGBT folks,” and “for people to come in off the streets. Hopefully, it will be a passageway to permanent housing and other things in their lives.”

Avicolli Mecca added, “It was frustrating that it took so long. Part of that is on the city, and how the city operates.”

He said that while “the city did help a lot” in getting the shelter open, “we’ve got to remember this came from the community. It came from a very real need in our community.”

Bevan Dufty, a gay man who serves as director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement for Mayor Ed Lee and who’s been a strong backer of the shelter, echoed Avicolli Mecca’s remarks.

“This shelter is community-driven, and activists fought and stayed the course to make it happen,” Dufty said. He added, “This is so much more than 24 beds. This is a recognition that our services have not always been accessible to members of the LGBT community, because of hostility and ignorance. This is about a system recognizing the unique needs of LGBT individuals, particularly to be safe and welcomed.”

Gay Supervisor David Campos, whose District 9 includes the shelter and who called for the 2010 hearing, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Phillips said that along with Dufty, Campos’ staff “have been critical to advancing this project and ensuring that the shelter opens” in June. “They helped significantly to ask city departments to make this project a priority, and deserve a lot of credit for bringing the project to fruition.”

And here is another interesting article about how Service providers and advocates discovered how to avoid and prevent housing discrimination against homeless LGBT people during a workshop at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave., on June 4.
Workshop explores LGBTQ housing discrimination

Workshop explores LGBTQ housing discrimination
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jason Carson Wilson

Service providers and advocates discovered how to avoid and prevent housing discrimination against homeless LGBT people during a workshop at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave., on June 4.
Brittany Mabry, a training and education manager for the National Runaway Safeline, stressed the training’s value.”When we are talking to young people or parents, we can advocate for youth,” Mabry said. “Everyone publicly to have this that knowledge would put everybody in a better place.”Lambda Legal joined forces with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to provide the training. The training began with offering the basics, including reviews of everything from sexual orientation to preferred pronouns.”Don’t make assumptions. It’s not cute,” Lambda Legal Community Educator Crispin Torres said. “What we’re giving you here today is a set of frameworks.”

Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Organizer Nat Duran facilitated a group activity aimed at helping attendees learn the meanings of various terms, including homosexual, transgender and cisgender. Duran highlighted the message, with which she hoped people left.

“Everyone, no matter their identity, has a basic right to safe housing options,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kyle Palazzolo said while highlighting a recent legal victory for transgender people and current protections in place. Palazzolo noted new Occupational Health and Safety Administration ( OSHA ) guidelines regarding bathrooms. OSHA said workers should be able to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

“People should be able to use the bathroom they identify with,” he said.

Palazzolo pivoted the discussion about identity to delve into discrimination against homeless LGBT people. He noted youth, who identify as LGBTQIA, are still being banished from home. So, of course, they could end up in homeless. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD )’s Equal Access rule and Illinois Human Rights Act provide protection.

HUD’s Guidance for Placement of Transgender Persons suggests that “providers should strongly consider” a client’s identity, when coordinating placement. Speaking of identity, Palazzolo said certain markers shouldn’t used to determine one’s identity.

“We’re trying to get away from talking about genitals when we talk about gender identity,” he said.

Much of the discussion centered around how HUD-funded service providers, including homeless shelters, could avoid discriminating. However, Palazzolo highlighted the efforts to discriminate within the confines of private shelters, including faith-based homeless shelters.

Republican legislators, according to Palazzolo, tried to use their potential marriage equality support as leverage to insert “religious refusal” clauses into the Illinois Human Rights Act. Palazzolo reflected out loud on the irony of religious people trying to avoid providing people shelter.

“That seems a little antithetical to [religious beliefs],” Palazzolo said.

The Illinois Human Rights Act, of course, covers federally protected classes. They include race, sex, color, national origin or familial status.

But the state’s human-rights act also prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality as well as any other gender-related identity. Local ordinances prohibit source income discrimination as well as, in Champaign, Illinois, outlawing discrimination based on political affiliation, personal appearance and prior arrest.

Nearly 900 LGBT discrimination charges have been filed under the auspices of the Illinois Human Rights Act since 2006. Employment discrimination accounts for 3 percent of those charges, while housing discrimination accounts for 4 percent and 10 percent involve charges of bias at public accommodations.

Cases are generally resolved within 100 days. Legal counsel is not necessary to file a charge. For more information, visit the Illinois Department of Human Rights website at Visit Illinois Safe Schools Alliance or Lanbda Legal at to learn more as well.


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