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A Place to Call Home

Pride Haven offers homeless LGBTQIA members shelter, food and more resources.
Manuel Rivera
A photo of Pride Haven.

Tucked into the corner of 31st and Troost is a Pride Haven for queer youth who face homelessness, abandonment and discrimination.   

  Organized by SAVE, Inc., the overnight shelter is open 24/7 and offers a variety of support for members of the LGBTQIA community in ages ranging from 18-24. 

  Some of these homeless youths include UMKC students, newly “out” members of the community or recently kicked out by their own family. 

  “There’s a sense of community, because queer kids don’t have their families here to support them,” said Residential Program Manager Scout DeSimio. “We also provide a safe overnight bed.”

  DeSimio and Youth Case Manager Carlos Castillo’s efforts go beyond providing just a place to sleep. The two provide resources for the youths to pursue college, work, vocational courses and much more. 

  “My last client got a full ride scholarship to Southern University of South Carolina to become a social worker,” Castillo said. 

  However, not every goal is the same and not all paths are linear. DeSimio and Castillo start by tackling one issue at a time, and the rest falls into place. Among these important issues is ensuring the youths have documents, social security cards and proper ID. 

  “Those are all important things you need for anything such as housing, employment and school,” Castillo said.

  Within the shelter is a sense of community and mentorship, which welcomes and guides the youth seeking refuge.  

  “We’re providing all the ‘adulting’ you’re supposed to be getting from your family of origin,” DeSimio said. 

  In this case, “adulting” in the Pride Haven may look like life skills, development skills and mentoring. 

  Aside from life skills and adulting tasks, the shelter emerges the youth in a living space and community that embraces transparency and accountability. 

  “They have as many rights as the staff do, and have as much power to advocate,” DeSimio said. “What we try to do is really invest in the relationship with the person so that we can keep them stable here.” 

  The Pride Haven also creates a low barrier environment, which DeSimio describes as a place that’s easy to get in, but hard to get kicked out of. 

  “We’ll do everything we can to keep from asking you to leave,” DeSimio said. “Because if I bounce you from one place to another, it just prolongs the problem.” 

  Operating and running the shelter is not always easy, but DeSimio and Castillo continue to help in hopes of impacting the future of the LGBTQIA community. 

  “I’m doing my part to hopefully change the future,” Castillo said. “I can show them the path, but they’re the driver of their own car.” 

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