WASHINGTON — D.C. is continuing to make strides to protect residents with the opening of the District's first low-barrier shelter that is specifically dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community.
The ribbon cutting for the shelter, which is located on 400 50th Street SE, was held Thursday afternoon with Mayor Muriel Bowser and community members picking up their oversized scissors for the cause.
“We are proud to cut the ribbon on a shelter that embodies our DC values as well as our commitment to making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring,” Mayor Bowser said. “With this new facility, we’re breaking down barriers to shelter, building community, connecting residents with the trauma-informed services they need to live healthy, happy lives, and getting Washingtonians back on a path to permanent housing.”
The 40-bed shelter is dedicated to providing shelter and services to District residents who are experiencing homelessness and identify as LGBTQ+. The location will house unaccompanied adults who are 25 years of age and older.
In addition to a place to stay the shelter will also provide trauma-informed case management services including mental health, substance abuse treatment, medical, and victims’ services.
According to a news release, it is common for individuals who are experiencing homelessness and identify as LGBTQ+ to have had traumatic experiences before and during episodes of homelessness, including physical or sexual assault.
The shelter's goal is to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ adults by delivering services that are specific to its population and address their unique income and housing challenges.
“We’ve put a tremendous amount of thought and intention into providing trauma-informed programs and low-barrier apartment-style shelter to LGBTQ+ adults that affirms dignity, acceptance, and belonging," Laura Green Zeilinger, Director of DHS said. "I’m grateful to the LGBTQ+ community for making their voices and needs heard and I’m grateful to the Mayor for her continued investment in our homeless services continuum.”
The shelter will also provide support to the residents with job placement, education services, housing connections, and other key services.
The location of the LGBTQ+ shelter previously served as a family shelter but was converted to help this community who are disproportionately affected by homelessness.