The first ever adult LGBT homeless shelter opened in San Francisco Wednesday.
Jazzie’s Place, named after a transgender African woman, opened in the city’s Mission District and holds 24 beds for people in the LGBT community.
City Supervisor David Campos said he’s been working with activists since 2010 to create the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender friendly shelter.
“Our homeless LGBT residents deserve to feel safe and welcomed in our shelter system, and the opening of Jazzie’s Place is an important milestone.”
Residents will be able to stay up to three months and will be able to choose between three separate areas: one for females, one for males, and one for those who don’t identify with either, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Although the exact number of homeless people living in San Francisco is hard to pin down, it’s clear that thousands live on the street in this city full of high priced condos. A 2013 city study put the number of homeless people in San Francisco at 6,400 and reported that almost 30 percent identify as LGBT, according to the SFWeekly.
People who identify as transgender are especially vulnerable to becoming homeless, according to the city’s Transgender Law Center. One in five become homeless after coming out.
A recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development put San Francisco in last place in the nation for housing homeless people with HIV/AIDS.
In addition, the LGBT population often faces discrimination and violence when they visit traditional shelters. Many have been beaten, had their possessions stolen, and had hateful slurs hurled at them.
It’s these disparaging facts about the country’s gayest city that motivated city supervisors and LGBT activists to create the shelter.
The new LGBT shelter, Jazzie’s Place, which cost $1.5 million to build, will be run by Dolores Street Community Services with an operating budget of $160,000.
It was built with a combination of public and private funds. The city donated $1 million, while private bars hosted fundraisers and companies donated services.
Brian Basinger of the AIDS Housing Alliance said the one-of-a-kind shelter will help the LGBT community feel safe.
“It’s good to know the most vulnerable among us aren’t being left out of our community’s progress.”
Although other LGBT services exist across the country, supporters believe this is the first shelter to cater to adults. Supporters hope it will act as a blueprint for the LGBT community in other cities and states.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]