Dallas Hope Charities Provides Community for LGBTQIA+ Young Adults

The North Texas Food Bank partner agency operates a housing program that includes the chance to learn about nutrition and gardening.

At Dallas Hope Charities’ Hope Center, LGBTQIA+ young adults are not only offered a safe place to live but also a community meant to help them grow.

“There is a huge need for this group, especially in Texas,” says Jordan Rodriguez Torres, housing program manager who uses the pronouns they/them. “A lot of shelters are for cisgendered individuals, families or single parents with kids. We wanted to fill that gap.”

Jordan says it’s not uncommon for young adults to be asked to leave home after coming out. They also house young adults who’ve become homeless after losing a job or breaking up with a partner as well as foster children, who age out of the system at 18 and often don’t have resources to live independently.

Opened in 2018, Dallas Hope Center offers up to 12 months of housing for eight individuals at a time. Residents, who are between 18 and 24 years old, don’t pay rent while living there. Those working 30 or more hours a week are asked to put 30% of their take-home pay into a savings account so they have resources to support themselves when they move out.

As a transitional housing program, the Hope Center staff want to ensure young adults are equipped to succeed on their own. To that end, residents can learn life skills, whether cooking, cleaning, changing a tire, preparing for a job interview or otherwise, and they’re connected with education opportunities and healthcare resources specific to their personal situation.

Young adults can also work with NTFB’s Social Service Assistance navigators so they can apply for SNAP, and they can enroll in mental health counseling.

And just like in any home, Jordan says groceries are crucial. NTFB provides food for the Hope Center and Food Bank staff recently worked with Jordan and their team to establish a garden where they can grow food and teach residents to compost.

Since having ingredients on hand is only part of what’s required for a healthy meal, NTFB’s Nutrition Services team provides lessons on how to turn pantry items and produce into a nutritious meal.

Ultimately, Jordan says they’d like to see a Hope House in every state in the country. For now, they’re working to ensure that LGBTQIA+ young adults in the Dallas area know they’re not alone.

“We do what we do to break the cycle of homelessness,” they say.

Kathleen Petty is communications manager for the North Texas Food Bank.