Photo Credits: JEREMY DANG / AGGIE
LGBT Community Center provides shelter
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center will open a 90-day shelter to help young LGBTQ youths who are homeless or displaced. The shelter is intended to focus on this community’s specific needs.
Krystal Peak, the community engagement and marketing specialist for the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, elaborated on how the center came about.
“We’ve been around roughly since 1984, at least in any sort of organized capacity,” Peak said. “Then we became the Gay and Lesbian Center, and a few years ago, in 2013, we did business as the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. It’s been different names, different iterations.”
Peak added that the Sacramento LGBT Community Center developed its model after many other centers around as well, hoping to bridge gaps and provide more for the LGBTQ community.
“There are multiple LGBT centers around the country and beyond that had really has taken an interest in creating housing for youth and for those in their senior years,” Peak said. “The New York LGBT center, the LA LGBT center and a few others have either added onto their center space to create housing opportunity space or have found nearby properties to provide that resource usually for low income or assisted living. We’ve seen larger metropolitan areas use this model so that folks are able to find more housing opportunities, especially in the LGBTQ community.”
Councilman Steve Hansen explained how housing became a primary struggle for many members of the LGBTQ community.
“The specific impacts of homelessness on LGBT youth are profound,” Hansen said to The Sacramento Bee. “As youth come out, their families kick them out, and they struggle to figure out where to go. In talking to LGBT youth of color and transgender youth, they are buffeted by multiple layers of prejudice and barriers. This is a way to empower them for a productive and happy life.”
Peak also noted that those in the LGBTQ community often face a lack of familial structure.
“There’s usually unconventional family structures or a lack of family acceptance or family resources, [and] often LGBT centers are able to step in and create a better community structure,” Peak said.
Pixie Pearl, the assistant director of housing for the Sacramento LGBT Center, explained how the center was able to fund for its housing project.
“We actually have a grant through the California government office and emergency services, which is renewable for four years, and the city of Sacramento actually did a match with the support of Councilmember Hansen and Mayor Steinberg, so they matched the funds we got to support and we also have private donors,” Pearl said.
Peak indicated that tackling the housing crisis is crucial.
“In Sacramento, there is such a strong grassroots LGBT community, and what’s been lacking has been hard resources like housing,” Peak said. “Hopefully, if this program proves to be successful, we will be able to expand and offer more resources and really provide that enriching community space that a lot of folks in the area have been hoping for — it’s something we’re really excited to do, we’re really hoping that it becomes a success, and hopefully we can grow it year over year.”
Pearl also noted that there are other programs to help ease the housing transitions for youths. Some of these programs operate with harm reduction and housing first models.
“Right now, we have an up and running program transitional learning program for 18- to 24-year-olds for 18-24 months,” Pearl said. “We also have a STEP program — short term transitional housing program. We’re hoping to get that going end of May, beginning of June. This is a low barrier — if you’re struggling with relationships or addictions, we’re approaching a harm reduction way where we can address those needs and do a housing first model.”
Pearl emphasized the importance of a low barrier program, meaning that most individuals can attain the housing they need.
“I see a lot of things, I see that having a low barrier program is going to be vital,” Pearl said. “Maybe those folks who are struggling with relationships aren’t able to get into housing. While we’re opened to everyone, we do have a focus for LGBT as we know there’s 40% of youths who are facing homelessness, who identify with our community. We hope to give specific services that are trained so that people can be validated with who they are so that they can feel safe.”
Written by: Stella Tran — firstname.lastname@example.org