The Los Angeles LGBT Center is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Anita May Rosenstein campus in West Hollywood on Sunday, April 7. The Pride L.A. spoke with the Center’s CEO Lorri L. Jean about what to expect. Check it out:
So, why create the new Campus?
The Campus was a component of our Long Term Strategic Plan, which was first developed more than a decade ago. We concluded that our community had staggering needs, and we set our sights on trying to meet the most significant among them, including building affordable housing and offering support services for some of our most vulnerable clients: LGBT seniors and youth. We had this once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a campus-like community with critical services, affordable housing, and much more. The Campus stands as a beacon of hope for the LGBT community in Los Angeles and beyond.
What does that say about the LGBT Center as a whole?
Our Center has a 50-year history of setting our sights on accomplishments that no LGBT organization has ever done before. This is another example in that proud history. And we couldn’t have done it without truly amazing support by our dedicated and determined community. We always knew we had to overachieve if we were going to make this Campus a reality, but we NEVER anticipated the kind of success we’ve had. The lessons we have from building the Campus: We should never hesitate to dream big; we can achieve more than we ever thought was possible; and never underestimate the power of LGBT people and those who love us.
Was there particular time, trend or reason the need for the Anita May Rosenstein Campus emerged?
As I previously mentioned, our Board of Directors appointed a committee in October 2006 to develop a new Long Term Strategic Plan. After surveying thousands of community members and assessing the landscape to understand other resources that were available to LGBT people, and listening to our clients at the time, we understood that the needs of seniors and youth in our community were not only dire in many respects but were growing. If we were going to respond to those needs, we knew we had to dramatically expand both our capacity and what we were doing.
What will programs/resources will the Anita May Rosenstein Campus offer that differ for the other campuses?
There really is no other Campus like this anywhere—for LGBTQ people OR for straight people. We found only one example of a small intergenerational campus in the Netherlands (not focused on LGBTQ youth and seniors). The Anita May Rosenstein Campus will enable a dramatic expansion of intergenerational services: 100 beds for homeless youth, a new Senior Community Center, Youth Drop-In Center and Youth Academy, as well as expanded programming, administrative space, and more. Phase II, which will be completed in mid-2020, will include 99 units of affordable senior housing and 24 micro-housing units for youth.
Who is the target demographic for the new campus?
Our expanded programming and services focus on seniors and youth, but everyone is welcome to the new Campus!
Why are programs and resources such as the ones that the LGBT Centers offer so important to the LGBTQ+ community?
Studies show that two out of every 10 LGBT seniors live on $20,000 or less per year, and few LGBT seniors have adult children to care for them—we’re 4 times more likely than our straight counterparts to live alone and have no family to rely on. Too many LGBT seniors live impoverished and alone. All of our seniors deserve better—from a comprehensive range of health, wellness, educational, and enrichment programs to having an affordable place to call home.
On the other side of the spectrum, an alarming 40 percent of youth surviving on the streets of Los Angeles each night identify as LGBTQ. Abandoned by their families, most of them depend on the Center for basic survival needs. The Campus will provide 100 emergency and transitional housing beds—double the number of beds we currently have—as well as increased educational and employment programs and opportunities for all LGBTQ youth.
The Campus is the product of more than a decade of dreams and hard work, a public gathering place that brings the generations together to live, work, receive services, celebrate, and learn from one another.
What will be happening at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday?
We are having a party—and everyone is invited! In addition to the ribbon cutting, the free all-day festivities will include entertainment and tours of the two-acre Campus. We have more than 80 celebrities, dignitaries, influencers, and performers lined up to celebrate with us. Nothing like the Campus has ever been attempted anywhere else in the entire history of our movement. Nor is such a huge effort even being contemplated by any other LGBT organization anywhere. I’m in awe of what we’ve accomplished together, and I feel so much gratitude for everyone who played any part in our efforts’ success over the last 11 years. Let’s celebrate!