A year and a half ago, Jayson Dowker moved to San Francisco with nowhere to go and no job. He went to a local shelter where, according to Dowker, a staff member yelled loudly “Oh! you’re trans?” Dowker says that he awoke to people yelling and screaming at him and throwing water on him. He fled the shelter in the middle of the night.
Dowker is not alone in his experience; there are countless of other LGBT people who have experienced the same or worse treatment at homeless shelters. After the terrifying experience, Dowker told the San Francisco Chronicle that he he wants to stay at Jazzie’s Place, the first adult LGBT homeless center in the nation.
Jazzie’s Place was named after Jazzie Collins, a community organizer and transgender activist who was the vice chair for San Francisco’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force when she died in 2013. Jazzie’s Place opened in San Francisco on June 17 in the Mission District. The shelter is run by Dolores Street Community Services and has just 24 beds.
According to Steven R. Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, other cities have youth LGBT homeless shelters up to age 25; but Jazzie’s Place is the first of its kind, funded by a mix of public and private money plus an addition $1 million from the city. A third of the San Francsicso’s homeless population is LGBT. The 24 beds won’t house every LGBT homeless individual but it certainly will help. The shelter will be home to adults over the age of 21 for up to 90 days and they’ll have the option to live among males, females or non-gender conforming individuals.
Reservations for a bed at the new shelter can be made at the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, which is located at 165 Capp St. or by phone at (415) 869-7977.
Watch the press conference for the opening of Jazzie’s Place:
(featured image via Franco Folini)