New Housing Initiative Helps LGBTQ Folks Find Stable Housing

On December 25, the We Thrive organization of Hyannis, MA, announced a new housing initiative for people who identify as members of the LGBTQ community. The We Thrive organization offers a shared housing resource where members of the LGBTQ community and allies of the community can live in a group housing situation at a low cost. Being able to live in a supportive environment is critical to this marginalized group.

How the Housing Initiative Will Work

The We Thrive organization's new housing initiative is going to expand existing programs and locations for LGBTQ persons ages 18 to 30 who live in or near Hyannis. The housing will consist of large homes and multi-unit apartment buildings with common areas. The individuals will pay an income-adjusted rent for their private bedrooms and have access to shared spaces, including living areas, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry facilities and private yards.

Reasons Behind the Housing Initiative

The LGBTQ community is often discriminated against in the traditional rental housing market. Young people are also at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to afford to buy their own homes. The ability to maintain stable housing is a huge predictor in good mental health outcomes and better overall health and well-being. Housing prices are high in this area of Massachusetts, and people often deal with price wars and getting outbid. Landlords often prefer more experienced tenants.

Background of We Thrive's Project

According to Scott Fitzmaurice, who is the Executive Director of We Thrive, LGBTQ people who are young and live in the Hyannis area can rarely afford a place to live. They have a hard time finding landlords who will rent to them. When they do, older people and people who can pay a higher rental price often out-compete them. We Thrive hopes to alleviate some of the housing stressors in the LGBTQ community in Hyannis by offering these new shared housing arrangements. The units should be available by April 2021, but the project was announced on December 24, 2020.

About the We Thrive Organization

The We Thrive organization is listed by the state of Massachusetts as a member of the Safe Spaces Program. Safe Spaces is an association of organizations that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual and allied individuals. The organization functions as an umbrella for other community groups working with this population of people. In particular, the young people who are a part of this community are at risk for homelessness. Safe Spaces aims to prevent homelessness and help youth in the LGBTQ community find positive housing arrangements that are culturally appropriate, affordable, safe and specific to their identities.

Services Provided By We Thrive and Safe Spaces

The We Thrive organization and other members of Safe Spaces offer a full spectrum of mental health, physical health and community support services. Their offerings include programs that strive to boost the self-esteem, resilience and social support networks of the LGBTQ community. They also offer programs designed to lower the risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviors in this population of young people. The services are delivered in a safe setting that supports people to be themselves. Participants don't have to worry about compartmentalizing any part of their identities. These spaces are referred to as sanctuary programs. Any LGBTQ individual who is at risk for violence, self-harm, homelessness, joblessness or other social issues can participate at no cost.

Why These Services Are Needed in the LGBTQ Community

Members of the LGBTQ community have a higher risk of addiction behaviors and mental illnesses. They also have higher rates of abandonment by their families. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are often discriminated against in the workplace, school system, rental market and other parts of society. As a result, they often lack the self-esteem necessary to prevail through such tough conditions. Young people who are part of the LGBTQ community often lack mentors and role models who are like them. The We Thrive and Safe Spaces programs identify the services needed by the LGBTQ community and bring those services to the people who need them. In particular, they focus on young members of the LGBTQ community who have the highest risk of substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal behaviors.

Goals of the Housing Initiative

We Thrive hopes that their programming will reduce trauma in the LGBTQ community. It also hopes to facilitate the development of stronger social networks. The organization also aims to lift up LGBTQ youth.

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