Sylvia Rivera Law Project advocates for LGBTQ equality in NYC homeless shelters
The goal of the city’s homeless shelters is to provide safe temporary shelter, however, one client claims that’s not the case - especially for those in the LGBTQ community.
"I called the police last night… they had to remove an individual out of the room because of his racial epithets, homophobic epithet,” said King Joshua.
Joshua says they have been living in New York City homeless shelters for a little over a month. The city’s Department of Homeless Services touts that it implemented the first of its kind policy to help LGBTQ communities.
However, as a gender non-conforming person, Joshua says they confront violence every day.
"We've sort of been trying to hide, you know I have skirts and different things like that, and blouses but you know as a safety precaution. I haven't been wearing them because I haven't been wanting to make myself a target of violence or discrimination,” said Joshua.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project has been championing change in shelters for years. The organization sent a letter to the city’s Department of Homeless Services earlier this month saying, “We took to documenting, and creating a survey and that survey of about 40 people found what we knew which was that the shelters were unsafe for people that they were dangerous for clients and this was from staff, security and other clients."
In a statement, the DHS says, "We continue to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to providing homeless services and throughout this ongoing process, will continue to listen to feedback from partners such as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.”
The SRLP plans to continue advocating for progress in a system they believe is broken.