Contributing Author: Stuart Lane
Published December 2, 2014
Homelessness has thousands of different faces. It reaches into every corner of our country. It takes an emotional toll, stresses families, and by its very existence denies people the most essential of needs: for shelter and dignity.
These fundamental needs are all to frequently denied to those in the LGBTQ community. On a regular basis, Triangle Community Center fieldscalls from young men and women in need of supportive housing; their parents kicked them out of the house aftercoming out, financial stress, and rejection from a once-stable home environment make these disturbing trends possible.
The Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project (MFAP) and Triangle Community Center decided to do something about that. In 2013, MFAP purchased a 3700 square-foot house in Norwalk, providing a ten-bed transitional housing program. Our housing program is called Moore Place, and we are eager to serve those in Norwalk who need our help the most. Triangle Community Center will sponsor several beds for those who identify as LGBTQ but do not otherwise qualify for housing assistance. An example of this would be an LGBTQ young adult who does not qualify for assistance from DCF due to their age but is not technically homeless because they may be living with a friend or sexual partner and is HIV- with no mental or physical disability.
These are needs we have identified for years. Those who do not have a place to call home face often-insurmountable challenges. While our services principally focus on HIV/AIDS testing and screening, case management, and other health services, we determined that working to provide transitional housing was necessary to serve the HIV/AIDS community, and those who are underserved at large. Those without a stable living environment are less likely to make informed basic health decisions, such as whether or not to take their medicine.
Our transitional housing program is centered on rebuilding lives. Our program will prepare and equip each individual to thrive in a new environment. We will provide life skills coaching, job training and placement, counseling, education and referrals. We will have full-time staff on-site to ensure that our clients have a good living environment in which they can build new lives.
MFAP’s housing project at Moore Place is open to those who are disabled and homeless. We are especially proud to partner with Triangle Community Center to provide beds for those who identify as LGBTQ. This would be the first time a supportive housing program in the state of Connecticut explicitly aims to serve the LGBTQ community.
We believe this need is presently unmet, which is why we are so eager to move forward. While there are prominent shelters across the country that serve the HIV/AIDS community and the LGBTQ community, those organizations have long waiting lists, and are centered around major cities.
MFAP and Triangle Community Center are proud to serve our community. We hope that this exciting new program will be a model for others.