JHSS looking to raise $100K for supportive transitional house in Regina for homeless LGBTQ2 youth

The John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (JHSS) announced campaign on Thursday morning to raise money for a new home for LGBTQ2S youth living in homelessness.

JHSS CEO Shawn Fraser said Saskatchewan Housing Corporation put up part of the money to purchase the home and JHSS will take on the mortgage.

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JHSS is looking to raise $100,000 in the next two years to help pay off the mortgage.

Fraser explained the project started in 2018 when JHSS noticed a lot of the youth coming to its other homes were a part of the LGBTQ2 community.

“We saw a great need in the community for the service,” Fraser said on Thursday.

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At first, the group rented a home from an Indigenous housing provider in Regina.

Fraser said the new home was purchased last year.

The home is named Lulu’s Lodge and has five bedrooms. The house will serve as a supportive transitional home for LGBTQ2 youth between the ages of 16 and 21 experiencing homelessness in Regina.

Fraser said statistics show that about 40 per cent of homeless youth in Canada are a part of the LGBTQ2 community. He said Lulu’s is trying to provide a sense of family and support to youth in need.

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Lulu’s Lodge will have a live-in mentor and provide guidance and support with education, physical health, mental wellness, family reunification, legal matters and advocacy.

JHSS director of social programs Tanna Young added that the home also provides in-house supports for employment and life skills.

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Young said JHSS does not have core funding for operations, and it’s been the fundraising efforts of the community that have kept the doors open.

“This campaign will ensure that we keep the costs of the home down so we’re able to provide those supports,” Young said.

One community supporter who has spent a lot of time raising money for Lulu’s Lodge is Terry Van Mackelberg, also known as drag star FloMingo.

Van Mackelberg shared his journey during Thursday’s announcement, saying that he knew growing up that it would be unsafe for him to come out as a gay man at a young age.

“That led to a lot of emotional stress and physical stress on myself because I couldn’t live authentically. If I were to come out as a young child, I wouldn’t have a home. There was no Lulu’s Lodge back then or a place for me to go to feel safe. So I would have been on the streets and who knows what my life would have been if I was forced to live on the streets.”

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Van Mackelberg said Lulu’s Lodge provides more than just housing, but also a sense of family and community for the youth.

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“The feeling you get walking into this home is unbelievable because these youth, these kids, they know that they belong. They know that they can be who they truly are, who their authentic selves are. And that’s something really special,” Van Mackelberg said.

Donations can be made online. Fraser said donations can be made as individuals, in groups or as a business. There is also a toolkit for those who want to host a fundraiser for the campaign.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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