SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Levi Giafaglione is in a better place than when he was 18 to 21 years old.
“It was such a rude awakening because I was one of those people who believed that about the stereotypes of homeless people, and then here I was, one of them,” Giafaglione said.
During that time, he saw the benefits of being able to experience an LGBTQ+ shelter in Hollywood.
“One of the benefits is you typically get a lot of lived experience staff whether it’s just LGBT or mental health or homelessness also because it affects our community so much,” Giafaglione said. “But one of the main things is that it takes out is not having to navigate who’s an ally.”
Now folks here in San Diego who are in the shoes of where Giafaglione used to be will get that same resource.
“It’s a first for our city. We’re very, very excited,” Casey Snell, VP of Admin. Homeless Initiatives San Diego Housing Commission said. “We know that LGBTQ+ experience homeless many at a rate almost 40 percent higher than their non-LGBTQ+ plus peer. So, it’s extremely critical we target services for this population.”
Snell says the $1.5 million for the initiative was allocated in the 2023 budget.
Until a 45-bed permanent site is found and operational, two interim locations in Clairemont and Point Loma will have 21 beds.
The LGBT Center’s Director of Housing and Youth Homeless Services told ABC 10News this will be a benefit to help homeless LGBTQ+ youth get connected to resources and off the street.
“Oftentimes, when it comes to LGTBQ+ youth, they have been rejected by their own families. These types of programs are a real lifeline, right? They instill that hope in them, and we’re going to be excited to see them on that first night when they come to us,” Victor Esquivel, Dir of Housing & Youth Homeless Services.
“The fact that we’re getting this started is incredible. It’s so needed, and it’s just such a hard experience for LGBT people in the existing shelters. So, this will be able to create the safe space for them to thrive,” Giafaglione said.
Snell from the Housing Commission said they hope to have those two interim locations up and running within the next 60 days.