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Houston Shelter for Undocumented Trans People Fights to Stay Open

Director of Casa Anandrea pleads for support from LGBTQ community. 

By Lourdes Zavaleta

No other Houston shelter will be prepared to take in and protect homeless, undocumented, transgender people if Casa Anandrea closes, according to its director, Ana Andrea Molina.

“If the shelter gets shut down, our dependents will have nowhere else to go,” says Molina, an undocumented trans woman from Tamaulipas, Mexico. “We are the city’s only refuge specifically for undocumented trans, queer, and non-binary people. In fact, other LGBTQ shelters refer undocumented people to me when they cannot take them in.”

Molina runs Casa Anandrea, a shelter in East Downtown opened by the Organizacion Latina Trans en Texas (OLTT) in May 2017. Since then, the shelter has housed many LGBTQ Hurricane Harvey survivors, but residents are at risk of being evicted unless OLTT raises enough funds to renew its $30,000 annual lease by April 30.

In April, Casa Anandrea lease payment increased $300 per month. When Molina realized that OLTT could not afford the payment without help from the community, she created a GoFundMe and took to social media to ask her friends and followers for donations.

“The space you know as Casa Andrea-OLTT might have to close. This place has been in operation for one year, providing housing for more than 30 people as an emergency bed and permanent home. Today it might have to close at the end of this month. We need $30,000 to renew our rental agreement,” Molina wrote on the GoFundMe page .

As of April 25, the page had raised only $615. Molina said she has also reached out to OLTT’s sponsors and asked for an extension on the lease payment, but she was still awaiting responses. To ensure that the shelter survives, Molina’s last resort would be to sell her land and other possessions in Mexico.

“I would exhaust all of my personal resources before I let Casa Anandrea close,” Molina said. “We are an inclusive, diverse, and safe space for Houston’s LGBTQ population. Closing the shelter is not an option.”

In January 2015, a group of trans Latinas came together to create OLTT after being banned from a public restroom and told that they were not women at a Latino event in Houston. Molina and her co-founders, all trans women, founded the group to protect, support, and advocate for trans Latinx people in Texas, Molina said.

Since then, OLTT has helped trans people with issues such as immigration, name and gender-marker changes on government-issued IDs, HIV prevention, and English classes. In addition to these resources, Molina opened the shelter for homeless, Latinx trans people on May 3, 2017.

In its first year, Casa Anandrea has housed 30 trans people, including clients who were recently released from ICE detention centers, had fled violent relationships, or were afraid to go other shelters.

All who stay at Casa Anandrea have had access to OLTT’s other programs.  

The shelter has helped 12 people change their names and gender markers on state IDs, and after Harvey hit, it provided meals to 50 people for two weeks.

Casa Anandrea is funded entirely by donations and out of Molina’s own pocket. At the end of the month, she will know whether the shelter can stay in operation.

“There are many difficulties that homeless trans women face,” Molina says. “They are not taken into account, and much less offered resources. This abandonment puts them in vulnerable situations. I hope that those who have more than them can give so that we can keep Casa Anandrea alive.”

To donate to OLTT’s GoFundMe campaign, go here. For more info, visit latinatranstexas.org or email Molina at [email protected].

OLTT will host a Ms. and Mr. OLTT pageant at Scandalo Nite Club at 9 p.m. on Friday, April 27. More info here.



Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.
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