San Francisco project steps up to help the LGBT homeless
Chandler went to San Francisco’s first-ever Project Homeless Connect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on Monday. It was like nothing he’d ever stepped into.
“Just being in a room with so many other homeless people who are like me is, well, I guess, nice,” the 44-year-old unemployed library clerk said as he headed to the food line to grab a bag of groceries. “They’ve needed one of these things for a long time.”
That was the consensus among hundreds of folks who streamed into the all-day event at the LGBT Community Center on Market Street, as well as the hundreds of volunteers and service providers who showed up to help them.
Project Homeless Connect, now in its 10th year, is a one-stop fair held every two months to offer homeless people counseling, housing, dental work, haircuts and dozens of other services they have a hard time getting hooked into amid their daily struggles for survival. It regularly draws a couple of thousand people – but when the city’s biennial homeless count came out in June, showing that 29 percent of San Francisco’s 6,436 indigent residents are LGBT, city leaders were inspired to craft Monday’s event.
It didn’t take long for clients and volunteers alike who gathered for the fair to realize that being LGBT lays an extra stripe of challenge and misery onto the experience of being penniless.
People complained of bigotry – not just from the general public but from fellow homeless people. They spoke of being beat up and scorned, and of feeling isolated and scared to ask for help.
That’s exactly what Mayor Ed Lee and his point man on homelessness, Bevan Dufty, reckoned they would find when they came to the event, and they both vowed to step up efforts to counteract the problem.
“There is so much challenge on this issue not just in our system, but in the rest of society,” Lee said. “We will be doing some education in the shelters, just as we’ve done about dealing with women and children in the shelters. We need to educate people to be more sensitive and inclusive. We will work on this.”
(thumb via the linked article)