Casa Q’s mission is to provide safe living options and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth and allies, ages 14 to 22, who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Unlike emergency shelter programs, Casa Q provides residential and transitional living services in a home-like environment, complemented with comprehensive and individual case management.
Casa Q has served over 85 LGBTQ+ youth and their families, since opening our doors in February 2015. Our residential program serves young people ages 14-18, and our Aftercare and Transitional Living Programs (TLP) support young adults ages 18-22 who have aged out of the Casa Q house, or who were referred to us and are now living on their own. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the need to ensure LGBTQ+ young people ages 14-22 have housing, access to mental health services, and solid support systems. There is very limited housing for homeless teens in our community, and Casa Q is the only LBGTQ+ specific homeless shelter in the entire state of New Mexico.
Jay (they/them) came to Casa Q after moving through various foster homes and youth shelters. “I wanted to be with kids like me...queer and displaced,” they said. Since coming to Casa Q, Jay finished their GED, started working, and is currently saving money so they can move out of the residential program in the fall. Jay is 17 and focused on their future; they hope to go to college and live in Casa Q’s Transitional Living Program when they graduate from the residential program.
Mav (he/him) moved into the Casa Q house because his parents do not accept his queer identity. Mav’s parents have a history of domestic violence and Mav did not feel safe returning home after being admitted into the hospital for self-harm. The Program Director conducted the intake process from the client’s hospital room. Mav moved into Casa Q at the end of 2021 and has enrolled into GED classes and started his personal journey of self-acceptance. Mav is an independent leader and since being at Casa Q, Mav said he feels no guilt or shame for being his true self. Mav said he’s never been around as many LGBTQ+ people before and loves that he now has a support system of LGBTQ+ adults and peers.
The Santa Fe Community Foundation invited its nonprofit grantees to submit stories related to its June topic of LGBTQ+ Pride.