New LGBTQ residence targets young adults facing homelessness

New LGBTQ residence targets young adults facing homelessness

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A local nonprofit housing organization is accepting applications for the first LGBTQ-friendly permanent housing residence for young homeless adults.

Project HOME is nearing completion of the Gloria Casarez Residence at 1315 N. Eighth St. The four-story, 36,000- square-foot building will include 30 one-bedroom units of affordable housing targeted to young adults (ages 18-23) who are homeless, have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, including those aging out of foster care.

Project HOME provides housing, employment opportunities, medical care and education to homeless and low-income Philadelphia residents. For years, Project HOME had plans to build an affordable housing project geared toward at-risk LGBTQ youth. The nonprofit organization raised $13 million from state grants, the city and private donations to build the facility and paid $800,000 for the property, which will house the Gloria Casarez Residence, scheduled to open in January 2019.

Carolyn Crouch-Robinson, Project HOME’s director of residential services, said youth are the “fastest growing homeless population in the United States.”

“National data concluded that more than 40 percent of homeless youth in the country identify as LGBTQ,” she said. LGBTQ individuals have a history of, and continue to experience, discrimination when it comes to housing. We’re eliminating those barriers as much as possible.”

The residence was named after Casarez for the work she did for the homeless population, Crouch-Robinson said.

The civil-rights leader and LGBTQ activist also served as the first director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and the executive director of GALAEI, the Latinx social-justice organization, from 1999-2008, and was the founding member and community organizer of Empty the Shelters, a youth-led national housing-rights and economic-justice organization.

Casarez died in 2014 at age 42, after battling cancer.

“Casarez helped us to understand the needs of LGBTQ youth in the homeless system,” said Crouch-Robinson. “Project HOME wanted to commemorate her legacy by having our first LGBTQ-friendly residence named in her honor.”

The building amenities will include a community room with kitchenette as well as laundry, exercise, storage and bike rooms. The community room will open out to a courtyard sufficient to host indoor and outdoor events as well as programming for residents and the wider community.

Eligibility requirements include a minimum monthly income of $400. Twenty-five of the 30 units will be subsidized by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, with five units subsidized by the Office of Homeless Services. Rent will be calculated at a rate of 30 percent of a resident’s income. Added support will be provided for LGBT youth, Crouch-Robinson said.

“There is no specification on sexual orientation or gender identity to apply for housing, but we are being intentional with providing support for LGBTQ youth who are in need. They will have access to education and employment services in addition to health and wellness resources,” she added.

The Casarez Residence is accepting applications until Sept. 15. Applicants will be chosen by lottery. 

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