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Unity Project Creates LGBT Emergency Shelter Needs Assessment Report

Last fall, the LGBT Needs Assessment for Emergency Shelters in London was completed with the support of funding with the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy through the City of London. The purpose of this consultation project was to examine and develop a “best practices” service model for London’s emergency shelters to better serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing homelessness. The goals of the project are to increase capacity and competency of emergency shelter management and front-line staff in understanding and responding to issues affecting LGBT individuals; develop recommendations for the development of standardized practices, policies and procedures within emergency shelters in dealing with LGBT individuals; provide recommendations for the development of training materials for homeless serving organizations; and improve supports and services available to LGBT individuals accessing emergency shelters.

by Emily Stewart

The Unity Project has 32 recommendations for emergency shelters to accommodate members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The suggestions are part of a needs assessment done in collaboration with the City of London’s Homeless Partnering Strategy and consultant Geoff Bardwell.

Chuck Lazenby, executive director of the Unity Project, says one way to make LGBT visitors more comfortable is by watching out for gendered language.

“The fact way that we say ‘Hey guys!’ all the time is very gendered language,” she explains, “We had a trans woman who was staying here and she’s like ‘I’m not a guy, and I don’t like that there’s gendered language used here all the time’ and I think that’s really fair.”

She adds shelters should also designate themselves as safe spaces. “If we’re going to post signs to do that, we need to have the competency to be able to respond to that to ensure we are able to put it into practice,” she says.

“We need training for shelter staff so that we’re understanding the language, we’re understanding the definitions.”

She says that although LGBT and homelessness is associated with youth, the 17 people interviewed for the report  were all different ages. She adds that many of them say they face association, along with addiction, depression and other mental health issues.

The report will be launched at the London Public Library on February 3rd. It will take place in the Stevenson Hunt Room at 3 p.m.

Source: 106.9 The X

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