The LGBTQ Home for Hope is a 501c3 Not for Profit Recovery House and Shelter for the LGBTQ community. We accept everyone in our community without regard to their ability to pay. We started it in September of 2015 and it has been a tumultuous ride building it and keeping the doors open.
We are located in a former 14 bedroom Convent on nearly a full block of property with our massive garden and fields surrounding the house, or the castle as the neighbors call it. We can have up to 33 residents and are frequently pushing those limits. The house is open and staffed 24/7. We accept new recovery and shelter residents at all hours of the day and night and frequently get calls in the middle of the night, especially in the cold weather.
The atmosphere is upbeat and positive with laughter and music. A reporter with the Philly Voice stated that our house ‘seems more like a college dormitory or fraternity than a shelter’. We’ve worked hard to provide a nurturing, and caring, safe-haven in a comfortable home like setting.
We now have a second, satellite location as well in the beautiful Mt. Airy section of Philly. It is both sides of twin houses, connected at various points on all 3 floors, with 12 bedrooms and 26 residents. Those residents are Community Allies and LGBTQ.
Spring of 2017 we finally became OAS (Office of Addiction Services) certified at the original location (the Castle). The majority of our funding is the amazing support from our community. Donations keep our doors open and we are eternally grateful to everyone.
Some of the more recent acts of generosity have been checks from community organizations, loving corporate sponsors, a church group in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, provided housing for 40 people while the building underwent the completion of some desperately needed work that the city generously paid for, 2 vehicles – a 4 wheel drive pick-up truck and a Mustang GT convertible, and most recently the free use of a community center evenings and weekends for our expanded programming to offer arts programs such as dance, musical instrument, reading and writing music, song writing/poetry, spoken word performance similar to the vagina monologues, etc. We are also talking to an existing community arts group for classes in painting/drawing, pottery, ceramics and glass blowing.
Sakina Dean, the founder and CEO of Divine Light, Inc., a group of recovery houses targeted specifically to those without incomes, the disabled and the disenfranchised, realized the critical state of the LGBTQ community in both homelessness and recovery. Throughout 2015 she searched for an appropriate location that could provide a safe haven for a large number of LGBTQ clients. The Convent of the now gone St. Bonaventura Church campus became available. It was in terrible disrepair, having been vacant for a number of years and prior to that was a half-way house. Over several months the house was repaired and scrubbed by the original residents who volunteered to help it open as quickly as possible. There was already a waiting list before it opened in September of 2015.
Our mission was then, and still is, to eliminate homelessness within the LGBTQ community. We’ll never achieve that goal, but keeping it set so high, we are making a noticeable difference.
Daily Life & Operations
We are constantly fine tuning our programming and outside resources. Shelter is considered a form of recovery albeit not drug and alcohol but still recovery and as such we offer programming specific to the varying needs of shelter residents. A safe a comfortable place to live, healthy meals, clothing, personal care products and people who care start the process. Access to social services, financial assistance, health care, mental health care, and support groups rounds out the initial process.
We are not similar to the more common type of shelters. Shelter existence is usually bare minimum, residents must leave during the day and don’t have actual bedrooms, with dressers and closets, etc. in which to keep personal belongings. Our residents come and go as needed by the programming and as desired during their free-time. They live in what is more like a shared home with housemates. We don’t believe in and will not provide institutionalized settings. No bunk beds or overcrowded spaces.
Meals are prepared by the residents, on a rotating schedule in a large commercial kitchen. Residents who are interested share in the food ordering, meal planning and preparation. Proper kitchen techniques and general nutrition are taught. Even with the most basic of ingredients some amazing meals are prepared.
DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) is an integral part of our internal programming, and Trauma Therapy, Life Skills training, Parenting Skills, inside Computer and Software workshops, as well as job skills and apprenticeship programs provide a good foundation. For those in drug and alcohol recovery, add to that NA, or AA meetings both inside and outside, attendance at IOP’s, and much more. Our program is generally one year but depending upon each individuals needs it can run as long or short as needed.
Generally our model is that of positive reinforcement with extensive programming so individuals may either discover hidden talents and passions or build upon those already realized but stymied by homelessness, job loss, mental or physical health, or substance abuse. Regardless of the reasons, we as a community have a responsibility to do whatever we can to assist and hopefully heal anyone in need.
Most outside the LGBTQ community don’t realize the exponential levels of trauma we must endure simply by default of living our truths. The more an individual battles, the more we need to love them. Our mission is to work diligently with each person as an individual to build self love, self respect, self trust, self awareness, self discipline. We should all be able to feel a sense of purpose and self worth. Our acceptance in the world comes, in part, from our acceptance of ourselves and our self confidence.
We emphasize pro-social activities, vocational training, physical and mental healthcare, employment, and prevention.
LGBTQ Home for Hope practices non-discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, gender identity, national origin, disability, or age.