SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Santa Clara County officials have opened a new homeless shelter focused on serving the needs of LGBTQ+ residents. It is only the second of its kind in the nation.
By design, The New Haven Inn in San Jose looks less like a shelter and more like a home. For the LGBTQ+ residents that live here, if feels more like one too.
"It's a safe haven. It's a place to go where you're not going to get fear of violence or persecution because of your sexual preference," said Chris Miller.
Miller had been living under bridges before he came here. He says, for members of the LGBTQ+ community, traditional homeless shelters are often hostile places.
"I've been to most of the shelters in the South Bay Area and I've never felt safe in any of them or had a full night's sleep," Miller said.
And so Santa Clara County officials listened to these concerns and opened New Haven, focused specifically on the LGBTQ+ community.
It is only the second of its kind in the nation, the first being in San Francisco.
It comes at a time, when federal housing officials are considering changes to some equal access protections.
Bruce Ives, of LifeMoves, the shelter operator, said there has never been a greater need for a shelter like this than right now.
Cindy Chavez, a Santa Clara County Supervisor said, "Their inspiration was so strong that it moved the board of supervisors to act immediately."
The shelter offers case managers, job specialists, and support groups among other things. Residents can stay 90 days.
"So coming here to a place where they can be respected for the first time... and then you can start to work on your life. You can't stop being homeless unless you have a safe place to do it from," Case manager, Quinn Phan.
And even though the shelter is new, and relatively small, residents say it's already making a big impact.
"As you see, I tremble just talking about it because they have given me back just that little bit of hope," said one resident.
The 20 beds here have been full most nights so far. Staff says there is already a wait list to get in.