Breanna Reeves |
On June 28, 1969 members of the LGBTQ+ community were subject to a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New Jersey. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black LGBTQ+ activist and community leader, is credited as being one of the main participants in the Stonewall riots and her legacy continues to drive others to support houseless and vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth, like Gabriel Maldonado, the CEO of TruEvolution.
Founded in 2007, TruEvolution is a non-profit organization that fights for health equity and racial justice on behalf of Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ people in the Inland Empire by providing support with transitional housing, HIV health services, behavioral health services and other social services.
“It really is this wider system of social determinants of housing and mental health that create disparities in our communities, so we wanted to address that,” said Maldonado during a private site tour on June 14.
As TruEvolution continues to expand its capacity to serve the community, the organization is set to complete construction on Project Legacy, a community-based housing development, by 2023. The community campus will provide 48 beds for transitional housing for Riverside’s underserved population such as LGBTQ+ youth and those living with HIV or AIDS.
The property will include on-site primary health services, a job training center, fitness center, a health center (to be completed in 2024) and a community garden. According to TruEvolution, the population they seek to serve and house are identified as:
• 80% LGBTQ+
• 75% living with chronic health conditions
• 25% at risk (of contracting COVID or HIV or being chronically homeless)
• 25% Seniors (65 years old and older)
Project Legacy will be one of few LGBTQ+ centers in the region that will provide wrap-around services and transitional housing for those in need. The development is more than 41,000 square feet and will be divided into six lots across the property, some of which are named after LGBTQ+ pioneers like Marsha P. Johnson, George M. Johnson, author of banned queer book All Boys Aren’t Blue and Reverend Benita Ramsey, executive director of Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance.
In attendance to the site tour was Harold Phillips, White House Advisor and Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson who acknowledged a need for a safe community space that serves LGBTQ+ youth in the region.
“As I was telling Gabe and Director Phillips, this center not only provides [a] home, it provides hope and I think that’s the most important thing we can provide folks who have lost that,” said Dawson.
TruEvolution estimates the organization will be able to serve 120 people per year through the transitional housing program, which will function as a short-term housing option for residents who work to stabilize their lives. Other services and parts of the campus will be open to the public while the housing units will only be accessible by inhabitants via thumbprint technology.
Last year the efforts of Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes and Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes were instrumental in securing the $10 million state grant awarded in support of this collaborative initiative and the public-private partnership between the Housing Authority of the County of Riverside and TruEvolution making it a reality.