It’s been a busy first year for the LGBT shelter on North Hutchinson Street in North Philadelphia. The home has a new name, earned an award and is being visited by staff members of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.
Formerly known as The Divine Light LGBTQ Wellness Center, the shelter changed its name to The LGBTQ Home for Hope last month. Some residents felt wary of potential religious obligations associated with staying there.
Deja Lynn Alvarez, director of the Home for Hope, wanted it to be clear to people that the shelter was not affiliated with a religion.
It’s still listed as Divine Light in paperwork filed with the state, but has noted a “Do Business As” designation for the new name.
The LGBTQ Home for Hope also received the Urban Initiative award this week from the organizers of Philly Urban Fashion Weekend in honor of its innovative approach to combating LGBT homelessness.
“They just picked us,” Alvarez said, noting the Home for Hope did not apply for the recognition.
Alvarez attended an awards banquet along with a Home for Hope resident and Sakina Dean, owner of 10 Divine Light recovery shelters and the LGBT shelter.
The Urban Initiative award did not come with any prize money. But Alvarez hopes the recognition will prove useful when talking about the Home for Hope’s accomplishments to people who may be able to financially support it.
Members of Casey’s staff were expected to visit the Home for Hope July 14, after the Scranton Democrat met Alvarez at a community forum last month. Combating LGBT homelessness was a concern that attendees discussed.
Alvarez noted the local LGBT community has been a great help with clothing and toiletry donations, but the Home for Hope needs financial support also.
“I feel like maybe people were waiting to see if we were for real or not,” she said. “But we’re going into our first year. We’re here and we really need the community’s help. We’re still struggling, but we’re making it.”
The LGBTQ Home for Hope opened in September. It currently houses 34 residents. There are 15 bedrooms and nine bathrooms.