*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*

Contact: Eric Lukoff and Gina Simi
cochairs@alicebtoklas.org
415-508-4433

May 23, 2018

Top Mayoral Candidates Commit to Opening LGBTQ Youth Navigation Center Within First Year of Their Administration

Leading candidates sign on to Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club’s pledge to open the first navigation center of its kind after two years of delays by City

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club has secured commitments from four top Mayoral candidates, former State Senator Mark Leno, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim and former Supervisor Angela Alioto, to commit to opening an LGBTQ-focused Youth Navigation Center in the first year of the next mayoral administration.

“We stopped arguing over basic LGBTQ rights in San Francisco a long time ago. Unfortunately we have yet to address the systemic challenges we face,” said Eric Lukoff and Gina Simi, co-chairs of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. “The administration and Board of Supervisors have failed to provide adequate oversight, and the ongoing delays are inexcusable. We need to do better.”

In 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to open homeless navigation centers throughout San Francisco, with one specifically for youth and young adults. To date, the Mayor’s Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing (DHSH) has opened just two permanent centers for the general population, one small center focused on serving those with mental illness, and two other temporary centers that are set to close. In June 2017, DHSH announced it was working on a youth navigation center, but no substantial progress toward opening such a center has been made public.

Over 1,200 youth live on San Francisco streets every night, with nearly half of them identifying as LGBTQ. Many homeless youth routinely face homophobia and transphobia, including in existing shelters and navigation centers. While Larkin Street Youth Services, the LGBT Center and LYRIC in particular offer a range of daytime services for homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, there is no navigation center or other transitional housing options specifically for this population.

An LGBTQ-focused Youth Navigation Center would offer temporary and long-term housing options, meals, mental and physical health services, case management and workforce development, and staff and resources that reflect the LGBTQ community. Having paperwork and forms that accurately reflect a young person’s name and gender, as well as staff who recognize and respect their identity, and facilities that are gender inclusive are critical components to a model that serves queer-identifying young people. As opposed to an emergency shelter, navigation centers offer youth more stability and the ability to focus on getting housed and transitioning out of homelessness rather than reserving a bed each night.

Alice’s first-choice candidate for mayor, out gay former State Senator Mark Leno has committed to prioritizing opening the center within three months. In 1999, then-Supervisor Leno helped to open an LGBTQ homeless shelter, which has since closed. He also passed numerous groundbreaking pieces of legislation while in the State Assembly and Senate, including the first marriage equality law in the country, banning discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of gender, and expanding youth access to mental health.

District 8 supervisor candidates City College Trustee Rafael Mandelman, whom Alice has sole endorsed, and incumbent Supervisor Jeff Sheehy have also pledged to work with the new administration to make the navigation center a reality within a year.

Lukoff and Simi explained, “Homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ face not only the challenges of living on the streets, but also discrimination and ignorance from service providers and peers. In San Francisco, we can do better. We are proud to support Senator Leno for mayor because he knows how to make things happen. In fact, he has throughout his career. Our mayors and supervisors have been dragging their feet. Now it’s time to act.”

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The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is the oldest LGBT democratic club in the nation. For over 45 years, Alice has proudly organized the LGBT community in San Francisco, advocating within the Democratic Party for human rights, social and economic justice, and equality.

 

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