Former residents of New York City’s Marsha’s House, the only LGBTQ shelter available in the city, have come out about their experiences staying at the shelter.
Shyna Unity, a 24-year-old transgender woman from Alabama, staying at the shelter for 6 months after being homeless. She had heard “horrible things” about Marsha’s House, but had nowhere else to turn to.
According to NBC News, the shetler’s security guards verbally abused her, using transphobic slurs and threatening to fight her when she refused to have sex with them. She complained about their actions, and faced retaliation. “They don’t care about what they do to us. It’s just awful,” she said.
Other former residents and staff members have also come forward about their experiences, highlighting abuse and sexual misconduct allegations.
The NYC Department of Homeless Services denied knowledge of the misconduct that supposedly occurred at the shelter. “The health and safety of our clients and staff is our number one priority and we take all allegations seriously. We provide numerous channels for clients and staff to report problems, but these claims have never been reported and we have no evidence whatsoever to corroborate them.”
Marsha’s House has been open since February 2017 in the Belmont area of the Bronx, which continues to face rampant poverty. The shelter specifically serves LGBTQ people ages 18 to 30 year olds. Some have praised and others have criticized the age limit.
Mariah Lopez, 32, had managed to convince DHS to allow her in. However, staff denied her when she arrived because she had a service dog. Lopez was in and out of court after her experiences at the shelter. She was eventually transferred to suppress her report. Many others continue to come forward with allegations in light of recent reports.