America's housing crisis needs more creative solutions like this.
Home is somewhere to lay your head down at night without worry that someone will steal all of your worldly possessions. Home is where people start families and make lifelong memories. Having a place to go home to every night is safety. Safety from the elements and safety from other people who may mean you harm.
And there's almost nothing more quintessentially American than owning a home. Yet, the reality is America does poorly with keeping people housed. Homelessness is a growing problem across the country, especially with the lack of affordable housing and wages that don’t always meet the minimum basic needs.
And the rates of homelessness among transgender people are higher than average with 8% of trans adults experiencing homelessness compared to 1% of cisgender straight adults, according to UCLA School of Law Williams Institute.
To help remedy the problem in her city, the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, announced a plan to allocate $6.5 million toward an initiative to end homelessness of transgender people in the city.
The multiyear plan would see an end to trans homelessness by 2027. Transgender people face more discrimination, including when securing housing, than their cisgender counterparts. While this is unfair, it’s not particularly surprising when you consider the legislation around what bathrooms trans people can use. It’s not a far reach to assume they likely have difficulty finding a homeless shelter that will accept them based on their identified gender. Safety would also be a large component even if there was no discrimination in sheltering trans individuals.
"Transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming San Franciscans are 18 times more likely to experience homelessness compared to the general population, and we know that the rates are even higher for our minority trans communities," Breed said in a statement. "With one of the largest TGNC populations in the country, we not only must ensure that all San Franciscans have access to housing and essential resources through continued investments, but we can show the country that we continue to be a leader on supporting and protecting our trans communities."
America has not been kind to gender nonconforming people, especially people that identify as trans. It almost seems like it's acceptable to treat transgender people poorly. It needs to stop. If we are silent when injustice is present, our silence is the loudest voice in the room.
Breed’s proposed plan would include at least 150 long-term housing subsidies through the city's already established Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool program. It would also fund short-term rental subsidies, flexible financial assistance and support to build the capacity of nonprofits serving transgender and gender nonconforming people. The budget plan is extensive and will include planning for housing for LGBTQ youth who are at a transitional age.
Housing should not be reserved for those who society deems appropriate based on lack of knowledge and biases. Transgender people who are experiencing homelessness deserve a place to call home just as much as the next person. It’s not clear if this announcement was timed just in time for Pride Month, but it sure feels fitting.
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