Trans Housing Atlanta Program has its first paid staff member, thanks to two grants from the Atlanta foundation AEC Trust and the national Trans Justice Funding Project.

Justine Ingram will be the new contact person to assist transgender and gender non-conforming Atlantans who need help finding and funding housing and associated resources, said Tracee McDaniel, a THAP board member.

“It means a lot to have someone whose primary function is to assess those people, provide them with other referrals, not just transitional and emergency housing,” McDaniel said. “It means we can provide more services to community members in a timelier manner.”

THAP started in 2014 as a volunteer organization, but the community’s need for what it provides is “fairly overwhelming,” said Jamie Roberts, THAP chief financial officer. The volunteers decided to move toward becoming a more professional organization.

“Several of us tried to field the calls that we got, but as we went along, we got a lot of calls, and we wanted to make sure that each call was handled in a timely manner by someone who’s been trained to provide case management and supportive services,” Roberts said.

The case manager will respond to assistance request THAP receives from its housing hotline and social media outreach.

“Folks who need emergency housing services can call and talk to a professional case manager, who can help them get access to resources or direct them to resources their eligible for,” Roberts said.

Some of the grant money is classified as unrestricted, meaning THAP can use it toward its long-term capitol campaign to purchase a brick-and-mortar housing facility of its own.

“However, there’s a lot of housing need to meet now, so for our case management program and micro-grant program, we needed funds,” Roberts said.

The micro-grant program takes THAP funds and gives them to individuals who need things like housing sponsorships, utility payments and travel assistance.

“Some of the things we’ve funded are things like paying for someone’s security deposit, paying for someone’s housing application fee, paying for occasional motel rooms to kind of create ‘bridge housing’ between their regular housing, also to sponsor folks in shelters, where a shelter requires kind of a nominal fee for staying at their facility,” Roberts said. “We’ve more than doubled our capacity in the past year and we’re really excited to have a case manager working for us now. It’s really helped us provide our services in a more professional manner, and we look forward to continuing the case management program as we also save up to purchase or lease regular housing.”

As the transgender community continues to face a political climate where their rights are threatened — most recently with President Donald Trump working to ban trans troops from serving in the US military, a move itself now halted by the threat of nuclear war — McDaniel sees the services THAP provides as vital for these individuals.

“We had a community discussion about the importance of finding some way to assist trans people who are being discriminated against and also are homeless. We wanted to be a part of the solution instead of sitting back and complaining about ‘somebody isn’t providing this to us,’” McDaniel said. “THAP is here to provide some assistance to trans people. We’re living in a state of emergency. We’re being discriminated against at the highest level. We just want people to see us as human beings and see that we are positive contributors to society. We’re not going to sit back and take the bigotry being thrust upon us.”

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