Casa 1 — a local landmark in Downtown São Paulo, Brazil, that opened in January 2017 to provide a safe place for LGBTQ homeless youth — is officially closing its doors at the end of the year according to the housing center’s creator and director, Iran Giusti. Since 2017 the house has welcomed more than 200 LGBTQ people expelled from their homes for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
On the official Casa 1 Facebook page earlier this week, Giusti posted a grim official announcement (translated from Portuguese): “No more. Casa 1 ends in December 2019.”
Located in the central region of São Paulo, Casa 1 currently houses 20 people from 18–25 years of age and welcomes around 300 students for workshops in English, Spanish, sewing and yoga, among others. The house also offers meals for those who live on the street, mental health clinics and activities for children, all free of charge.
The cost to maintain all activities exceeds R$40,000 each month, which is collected through government funding, personal donations and partnerships with the private sector. Giusti tells me that since 2016, when he opened the doors of Casa 1, its finances were never “comfortable.” But since the election of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new (proudly homophobic) president, funding has all but disappeared.
“When the new president was elected, the relationship ended,” Giusti laments.
“Hygiene products, for example, were never included in funding because we always received donations. But in February we had an expense of R$350 just for deodorant and shampoo. After all, there are 20 people living here,” Giusti says. He also mentions that sometimes Casa 1 lacked the cash for even rice and beans.
Giusti also contributes the closure of Casa 1 to never being able to create a management board, despite trying. “We ended up with a very small team that was overloaded,” he says.
As for the shelter’s residents, who will once more be homeless upon the closure, Giusti says, “Throughout the year we will continue trying to raise public funds, work with companies and encourage donations by individuals, but considering the last five months, we don’t foresee much success.”