Philly establishing transgender shelter

When Jaden Hensley visited the Appletree Center homeless intake center on Cherry Street seeking shelter one September night, the transgender man found yet another place that he didn’t fit in.

“We don’t take transgenders,” a security guard told Hensley, he recalls. A city spokesman said there’s no such provision.

“It’s against city policy to discriminate against LGBTs in city-funded programs,” said Sade Ali, deputy commissioner of the city Department of Behavioral Health. “Can we monitor 24 hours a day the actions of folks who don’t understand the ordinance? I wish we could.”

Hensley’s encounter may soon end with the creation of the Morris Home. The city-funded shelter will be the first to offer comprehensive health services specifically for the transgender community.

The home’s proposed site has not been publicly announced, but Ali assures that the home is a quickly-dawning eventuality. “We are hoping to get the doors opened in November,” she said. “Everyone deserves access to services and a place to go.”

Helping Hensley

Though he was unable to find shelter in the city, Hensley began affordable hormone therapy through Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center and found a Bucks County behavioral therapist. He sells One Step Away papers in Philadelphia during the day and takes the River Line to a Trenton shelter at night.

More on Hensley’s Story, Morris Home

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