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Philadelphia Gay News Apr. 18-24, 2014


New housing initiative to focus on young adults By Jen Colletta Entertainer Jon Bon Jovi will be in town next week to mark the opening of the JBJ Soul Homes — a residential community for formerly homeless and low-income individuals, with a special focus on young adults. JBJ Soul Homes will officially open its doors at 1415 Fairmount Ave. on April 22. The project, spearheaded by Project HOME, was made possible by private funding from the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, Leigh and John Middleton and Elizabeth Moran, as well as support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city. Project HOME will manage the 55 apartment units, and People for People, Inc., will head up the retail space in the building. Residents will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent. Forty of the units will be reserved for formerly homeless individuals and eight for young adults. Project Home, launching its

25th-anniversary year, is partnering with Covenant House for a pilot youth program at the residence. Young adults moving into the building will have access to case managers, employment and education services and life-skills education. If the program is successful, it will be implemented at other Project HOME residences. Carolyn Crouch-Robinson, residential project manager at JBJ Soul Homes, said the statistics facing youth aging out of foster care are staggering: 45 percent will experience homelessness; 50 percent

haven’t c o m pleted high school; 60 percent have difficulty maintaining consistent employment; 29 percent report substancea b u s e problems; 41 percent seek public assistance within four years; and 33 percent of women will have a pregnancy by age 17. Additionally, 70 percent of prison inmates have a foster-care history. “We want to help decrease some of those numbers over time,” Crouch-Robinson said. “We want to be able to track and see if some of the outcomes decrease.” Many of the young people moving into JBJ Soul Homes are working part-time and in college part-time. They will work with

staff to ensure their educational and employment goals stay on track and will get practical guidance on maintaining their own living space, as well as other services. The pilot initiative is slated for five years — during which time Crouch-Robinson said up to 200 young adults, ages 18-25, may come through the program. The project could be particularly valuable for helping LGBT young adults get on their feet, she said. “LGBT youth represent 5-7 percent of the U.S. population but 20-40 percent of the homeless population in the United States,” Crouch-Robinson said. “It’s estimated that 600 youth who identify as LGBT are homeless every night in Philadelphia.” Crouch-Robinson said a Project HOME task force, comprised of residents and staff, is drafting a workshop curriculum focused on LGBT topics for all residents. The agency is also exploring options for connecting LGBT residents. “We’ve been hearing from a few

people in the LGBTQ community that they’re feeling isolated, so we want to see if residents are open to taking part in something like an activities night, a social event,” she said. “We want to figure out how they want to approach it and have this particular support system in place that they can make their own.” The organization is also developing diversity training and support systems for people who have been victimized in the past. Project HOME co-founder Sister Mary Scullion said JBJ Soul Homes’ comprehensive approach will be integral to empowering residents. “The single most effective way to end homelessness is affordable housing,” Scullion said. “Over time, JBJ Soul Homes will give hundreds of people a permanent home with supportive services that will allow them to flourish.” For more information, visit or email christinasi or carol yncrouchrobinson@projecthome. org. ■

Court accepts McCord brief By Jen Colletta

COURTROOM EQUALITY: More than 40 judges of the First Judicial District attended an educational program March 20 aimed at providing them skills for addressing transgender individuals in their courtroom, the first time this kind of training has been offered to members of the judiciary. Speakers included Judge Barbara McDermott (left) and panelists Malia Roe of Mazzoni’s Trans* Care outreach team and Barrett Marshall, staff attorney at Mazzoni Center. Also speaking were Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations executive director Rue Landau and Mazzoni Legal Director David Rosenblum. The program was co-sponsored by the Education Committee of the First Judicial District, Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia, Mazzoni Center Legal Services, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s LGBT Rights Committee and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. Photo: Mike Viola

A federal judge presiding over a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage this week agreed to accept the Pennsylvania treasurer’s friend-of-the-court brief filed in support of the plaintiffs. U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin ordered on April 15 that Treasurer Rob McCord’s amicus curiae brief could be incorporated into the case. McCord submitted the filing March 24 in what was believed to be a first for a state treasurer. McCord argued that the state’s ban on marriage equality and denial of rights and benefits to couples legally married outside of Pennsylvania has detrimental financial effects on Pennsylvania citizens. The treasurer told PGN that he sought to shed light on the myriad impacts that the state law has on departments such as his. McLaughlin wrote in her order that she was allowing McCord to submit the brief because he offered contextual information

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that no parties had yet raised. “It appears that the movant is presenting information to the court that is not in the briefs of either the plaintiffs or the defendants,” McLaughlin wrote. The case was filed by Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker last summer. The Philadelphia residents were legally married in Massachusetts and are seeking to have the Keystone State recognize their union. Also on Tuesday, McLaughlin again denied antigay Conshohocken resident James Schneller’s attempt to intervene in the case. Schneller, who is seeking to become an intervenor in every pending challenge to the state’s marriage law, first sought to intervene in the Palladino case in January but was denied in March. Later that month, he filed a motion for reconsideration, which McLaughlin denied, and recently submitted an application to amend his original petition, which the judge again refused. She said Schneller has “not raised any of the reasons that would justify the court’s reconsideration of its earlier order.” ■

PGN April 18 - 24, 2014  
PGN April 18 - 24, 2014  

"The Philadelphia Gay News covers news and entertainment serving the LGBT community in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond"