Wanda Alston House Marks Five Years

D.C.'s only dedicated space for homeless LGBT youth reorganizes with new foundation

By John Riley
Published on September 23, 2013, 3:11pm | Comments

Advocates for at-risk LGBT youth will host a reception Oct. 8 to celebrate the formation of the Wanda Alston Foundation and the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Wanda Alston House, the District's sole housing program specifically geared to providing support services to homeless or at-risk LGBT or questioning youth. The namesake Wanda Alston, first director of the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs, was killed in 2005.

Since opening, the Wanda Alston House has helped more than 40 youths find permanent housing. The facility houses eight beds, which, advocates note, are the only eight in the entire city dedicated to LGBT youth. This lack of dedicated accommodation for homeless LGBT youth led The DC Center, Washington's LGBT community center, to circulate a petition calling on the D.C. Council to allot more beds for LGBT homeless youth.

The Wanda Alston Foundation was founded this year to help shore up the financial stability of the Wanda Alston House. While the foundation's tax-status application is under review, its fiscal agent is the LGBT community and services center Casa Ruby, and it receives some D.C. government funding.

The foundation has recently formed a nine-person board of directors and elected officers, with Christopher Dyer, director of the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs during the Adrian Fenty administration, serving as president. Kevin Brunell, a local LGBT business owner, will serve as vice president; Xion Lopez, a former Wanda Alston House resident, will serve as secretary; and Kurt Vonderan, a local LGBT activist, will serve as treasurer. Brian Watson, formerly of Transgender Health Empowerment, which opened the Wanda Alston House, will serve as Wanda Alston House executive director.

David Mariner, director of The DC Center, which is hosting the celebratory happy hour for the house and the foundation, congratulated all involved.

''They are having an exciting new beginning, and we are happy to do whatever we can to support them,'' he said.

The Wanda Alston House Celebration and Foundation Kick-Off Reception will be held at Mova Lounge, 2204 14th St. NW, on Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $10 each and may be purchased online at thedcenter.org. Donations may also be made directly to wandaalstonhouse.org.