The Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services is offering one year of rental assistance — worth around $400,000 — to landlords around the city to support the Way Home Project. By June, a total of 40 LGBTQ individuals who’ve been living on the street will have their own rooms in various buildings. As of this week, 12 people have been housed, and a waiting list is forming.
The project is operated by SELF Inc., the largest provider of emergency housing services to single adults in Philadelphia, in partnership with the William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City.
While Project HOME, the Philadelphia anti-homelessness agency, built the Gloria Casarez Residence for young LGBTQ people in North Philadelphia in 2019, “there’s never been a program like Way Home,” said OHS director Liz Hersh. “It’s innovative, cutting-edge stuff. It’s designed and tailored to connect LGBTQ people to landlord rental-assistance,” also known as rapid rehousing. “We will try to sustain it, grow it, replicate it, learn from it.”
Throughout the region, 40% or more of people aged 18 to 26 who experience homelessness identify as LGBTQ, said Chris Bartlett, executive director of William Way. Many have aged out of foster care. “A large proportion of these young people do not find support from their families or community,” he added. “I think this project may be model for other cities.”
Along with housing, formerly homeless LGBTQ tenants are receiving social services to help them adjust to life, including education, job training, and mental health support. Many LGBTQ people experience family rejection, discrimination, harassment, and violence, experts on homelessness say.
Read more at ThePhiladephiaEnquirer.com.