On Feb. 18, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to allocate $180,000 for the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team to run the Midnight Stroll and After Hours Café program, which offers services for the transgender community.
“This funding for the Midnight Stroll will help secure emergency shelter beds and provide critical resources to help improve the lives of transgender individuals experiencing homelessness in Hollywood and other parts of the city,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, where the program is operated.
Midnight Stroll enlists volunteers twice a month to walk Santa Monica Boulevard at night and provide food, water and clothing vouchers to transgender women experiencing homelessness or domestic violence or participating in survival sex work. Volunteers also promote HIV testing and other services and on occasion offer shelter beds.
However, the program has rapidly expanded and now serves anyone who needs assistance, said Jazzmun Nichcalo Crayton, senior manager of strategic partnerships at APAIT.
“L.A. is a sanctuary for everyone, and that includes the trans and gender non-conforming community,” Crayton said. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to live their best life.”
In comparison to 2019, the City Council approved an additional $100,000 in funding for Midnight Stroll, which Crayton said would allow the program to keep functioning and conducting outreach.
“Once we got some type of funding, we were players in the game. People took what we were doing seriously,” Crayton said. “It gives us room to really create a pathway that is sustainable.”
APAIT collaborated with the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and O’Farrell’s office to provide the individuals it serves with medical care and housing opportunities, as well as to build a dialogue about challenges that transgender individuals encounter.
The West Hollywood City Council also approved an additional $40,000 in funds on Feb. 18 for initiatives supporting its transgender community.
Trans Can Work, a nonprofit that develops training strategies and programs promoting inclusionary workplaces, will use the funds to develop a public education campaign against transphobia and a gender diversity campaign for West Hollywood businesses.
The campaign will include the development of an e-learning module, educational materials and certifications for businesses that complete the training. In addition to training existing employees, the e-learning module will allow businesses to utilize the materials in their onboarding for years to come and carry on inclusionary practices with future employees.
“When you [only] do training with employees, information is not retained. When employees leave the company, that knowledge goes with them,” said Drían Juarez, vice president of programs for Trans Can Work.
In addition, Trans Can Work will hold four employer education sessions throughout 2020 in the Council Chambers for West Hollywood organizations and businesses with staff sizes ranging from 10 to 49 employees. Fifteen in-person coaching sessions with small- and medium-sized West Hollywood employers will also be held.
“West Hollywood is the LGTBQ city. Who better than to solidify this in the DNA of the city?” Juarez said. “It’s the perfect time to teach employers to hire from a diverse community.”
The city of West Hollywood will host a series of events throughout March for Transgender Visibility Month, including a performance of “The TransVagina Diaries” on March 14-15 and a celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.
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