The UK is set to get its first homeless shelter for LGBT+ people in east London, funded by the mayor Sadiq Khan.
The news follows on from the successful pilot of a temporary LGBT+ shelter, inside a renovated tour bus, last winter.
The project – a collaboration between Stonewall Housing and The Outside Project – will create a community centre and night shelter in Tower Hamlets for homeless people in the LGBT+ community.
According to the organisers, the shelter will be “housed in a building, with a community centre at its heart, in order to reach those LGBTIQ+ people most at risk of rough sleeping.”
The centre will act as a “cultural and artistic hub.” It will also house a cafe, alongside LGBT+ services, and co-working space for those in the queer community.
Statistics show that LGBT+ people are disproportionately affected by homelessness.
Figures from homelessness charity Albert Kennedy Trust show that some 24 percent of young people facing homelessness in the UK identify as LGBT+.
Bob Green, chief executive of Stonewall Housing, said: “LGBT+ people are more at risk of sleeping on the street and often avoid mainstream services.”
Green added that the initiative would “support more LGBT+ people to find safe housing and to access a range of services and social networks, through the community space where they can celebrate their identity and achieve their full potential.”
Stonewall Housing will also provide housing and employment support at the shelter.
The project is being funded by the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s “Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund.”
Tam Vilbert, community centre director, said: “At the centre of our community are the most vulnerable members, we owe all of our current LGBTIQ+ rights to the homeless, transgender and marginalised queers who stood up for us 49 years ago in the Stonewall riots.”
The permanent shelter is the result of the successful pilot of a temporary version in the form of a repurposed tour bus, which was previously used by bands like Status Quo and Metallica.
Carla Ecola, founder of The Outside Project said: “We welcome the support of the Mayor’s office following a year-long campaign driven by London’s LGBTIQ+ activist, artist and homeless community.”
The temporary homeless shelter was tested for four months over the winter period, and was the result of a fundraiser spearheaded by The Outside Project.
According to the Independent, the shelter could be opened in autumn this year.