Yeager: About 30% of homeless people identify as LGBTQ
Santa Clara County has opened the nation’s second homeless shelter that focuses on serving the needs of the LGBTQ population.
The New Haven Inn located in central San Jose, just south of downtown, has housing and services for up to 20 adults. The first LGBTQ-focused homeless shelter in the United States opened in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2015. Sacramento is moving forward with similar plans.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the LGBTQ temporary housing in late 2018. At that time, Supervisor Cindy Chavez said planning for it began in early 2017 after her office heard from a number of homeless LGBTQ teens and young adults.
“They told us that they felt safer on our streets than they did at some of our regular shelters,” Chavez said.
Currently, there are more than 2,000 LGBTQ homeless people in the County, according to former Supervisor Ken Yeager.
“Every year we do a count of the homeless people in Santa Clara County, and the last count showed about 7,000 homeless people. Just about 30% of the homeless population identified as LGBTQ,” Yeager said.
Top concern: ‘Safety and dignity’
When clients check in, they inform the staff of their gender identity. New Haven Inn’s bathrooms are for private use and designated all-gender. It also includes private rooms where residents who are on hormone therapy can take their medications, according to Brian Greenberg, the vice president of programs and services at LifeMoves, the Peninsula-based nonprofit that was awarded a five-year, $2 million contract to operate New Haven Inn.
“At the shelter, we focus on everyone’s safety and dignity, and give them … a safe and clean environment in which they can live, and hopefully identify permanent exits from homelessness,” Greenberg said.
Among the services provided at the shelter, which opened in spring 2019, are life-skills training, job placement assistance, as well as help in identifying and securing permanent housing. The maximum stay is 90 days, but that can be extended. Greenberg expects the typical resident will stay there between two and five months.
The environment at New Haven Inn is designed to be sensitive and supportive of LGBTQ individuals, according to case manager Thu-Quynh Phan.
“There is no tolerance for misgendering someone, for denying someone’s identity. We do our very best to celebrate that kind of diversity,” Phan said.
Gender Health Center
The opening of New Haven Inn marks another major new milestone in the County Office of LGBTQ Affairs’ drive to expand all-gender services. It comes on the heels of that office and the Santa Clara Valley Health System opening the Gender Health Center inside the Valley Health Center in downtown San Jose on Santa Clara Street.
The center, which opened earlier this year, offers primary and specialized care for transgender, nonbinary and gender diverse people of all ages in a safe and welcoming environment.
Patients may call 408-977-4411 to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider or a medical social worker. More information about the Gender Health Center is expected soon on the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center website.