Metro Weekly

Rooms and a Board

Chris Dyer creates advisory board to help raise funds for the Wanda Alston House

Christopher Dyer has long been a champion of local LGBT youth, founding the Youth Pride Alliance in 1996, then serving as the director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs during the Adrian Fenty administration, where he was also able to help secure funding for transitional housing for homeless LGBT youth.

That housing is the Wanda Alston House, named for the first permanent director of mayor’s LGBT office, who was murdered in 2005. And although Dyer left that position with the transition to new mayor, Vince Gray, his goals have changed little. The evidence is his newest endeavor, launching a Wanda Alston House advisory board.

”My motivation for starting a community advisory board for the Wanda Alston House is to help Transgender Health Empowerment [THE] gain more visibility, awareness and funding,” Dyer says, referring to the organization that operates the home. ”The goal of the board is to provide suggestions on how to secure more funding for the program.”

Since opening its doors in 2008, the Wanda Alston House has served as a transitional home for LGBT youth ages 16 to 24, offering shelter, job training and other services to up to eight residents at a time.

With limited funding and a waiting list of about 10 youths, Brian Watson, the director of programs at THE, says this advisory board is much needed.

”Our funding is in danger of being cut and we are trying to be proactive and put together a board to mainly help raise money for the house and to, hopefully, open another one,” says Watson. ”We are grateful for the help from the community members who have agreed to serve as well as Chris Dyer, who stepped up to help lead this initiative.”