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Housing News

Solutions to breaking the cycle of LGBT homelessness

Social issues are not the only ones faced by the LGBT community, but two housing communities have opened to address the specific needs of being kicked out of families and communities.

lbgt couple

lbgt couple

Not a forgotten housing issue

Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) are not lost. They are not forgotten. This is a specific group of people who are often forced out of communities, and even family situations, but there are two communities in the U.S. that are seeking to create a haven for those who may have been pushed to the edge and back again in their lives.

Programming for those who are often overlooked

The news of the most recent community came at the most interesting time. Yesterday, I had a very heated conversation with my good friend Jeremy Pearce, who I hold in very high esteem. Along with being a  soccer enthusiast, delightful character and sustainable financial adviser, Jeremy just so happens to be the Chair of an organization in Washington, DC called Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, or HIPS for short.

We had just left a meeting that I host for environmental professionals, and we were due for a chat. He began our late-morning coffee by telling me about the non-profit HIPS, how he came to chair it, and their “harm reduction model” for aiding people who are primarily in the sex trade seek to reduce the likelihood for harm towards these people.

Some of the services and programming that they provided struck a nerve with me and that was where the “heated conversation” came into play…  and a good ol’ healthy debate ensued.  I didn’t understand why they would provide for just a “one more day” sort of mentality. I guess I would want to provide safety (and our ideas of safety are entirely different) and all of the resources for the whole person all at once, and well, I realize that it is a lot more difficult than that. Sometimes friends will have lively discussions, you know.

Harm reduction model includes housing resources

Mister Chairman went on to disclose, rather eloquently the mission statement of the organization that he is the current Board Chair is “to assist female, male, and transgender individuals engaging in sex work in Washington, DC in leading healthy lives. Using a harm reduction model, HIPS’ programs strive to address the impact that HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, discrimination, poverty, violence and drug use have on the lives of individuals engaging in sex work.”

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I asked, why do you lump LGBT in with the rest of your “clients”?  His answer: “Ah, yes, [the LGBT community] are a huge constituent of ours, as they are often pushed out of their homes, run away and find themselves in the industry that HIPS seeks to bring the harm reduction model and services to. It is difficult to bring an entire life shift to a person, but if we can provide on a daily basis the safety of “one more day” then that is what we will provide.”

Of course, hopefully it is understood that this is in no way a generalization, but just a facet of this particular non-profit organization.  I personally found this non-profit’s stance quite fascinating, and yet my heart sank for all of the people that the HIPS group works to provide daily services and resources for- even after a heated conversation.

Limited options for breaking the cycle

Since it seems to be a recurring theme in the LGBT community that housing and homelessness are an issue, not just for seniors, but for all ages, I found it highly interesting that my conversation with the chair of HIPS came on the same day that an announcement of a new community for the same group was announced for the City of Philadelphia, which is so very close in proximity to DC.

The fact of the matter is that housing is an issue which can span a lifetime for those in the LGBT community, and there are only two housing development projects that have been created to break the cycle.

New developments create hope

There are numerous programs to try to resolve individual need and counseling, but the actual housing communities are limited to the newly slated Washington Square West property which has broken ground in Philadelphia to house LGBT seniors and a Triangle Square in Hollywood, California.

Nathaniel Popkin of Hidden City Philadelphia has published an article which sheds some light on the detail of this new development  concept in Philadelphia. Signage for the Triangle Square property as it was being constructed read “Supportive Housing Saves Lives;” this absolutely parallels what organizations such as HIPS do in their harm reduction model for providing valuable resources to communities which have in the past, been passed by.

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Written By

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

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