Nonprofit awarded 1st DC grant to help asylum seekers who identify as LGBTQ+

A local nonprofit that has received its first LGBTQ+ grant from the District is using it to help asylum seekers in the area.

AsylumWorks started seeing an additional hurdle for some of its clients over the last few years.

“Consensual, same-sex relationships are criminalized in 69 countries,” said AsylumWorks founder and executive director Joan Hodges-Wu. “Many of them choose to remain closeted to their immigrant communities to prevent any kind of discrimination or harassment.”

The AsylumWorks grant is one of 13 grants that went to nine organizations with a combined total of $195,000 from Mayor Muriel Bowser, as part of the FY 2022 LGBTQ Community Grant Awards.

AsylumWorks received an $8,500 and will use the money to fund a new community group specific for LGBTQ clients called Prism.

“The goal of Prism is really to fill that gap. It is to offer an alternative social space that might not be available to all of our clients, to present a safe, affirming, welcoming community,” Hodges-Wu said.

The group will include a support system for clients, as well as monthly dinners and events specific to LGBTQ issues.

“We aim to offer people a safe, affirming, welcoming community, where if they choose to be out, they feel support. And, we want them to know that if they don’t choose not to come out, that’s OK, too,” Hodges-Wu said.

She said that those who participate in the Prism group will be able to access all of the services that AsylumWorks has to offer, which she hopes helps more people.

“Maybe they come for the social piece, but then they also can receive assistance with connecting to a doctor, finding a counselor, getting an immigration attorney or looking for a job,” Hodges-Wu said. “The goal at the end of the day is to help our clients rebuild their lives, and we’re so excited to be able to contribute this critical suite of services to the D.C. community.”

The full list of organizations receiving grants includes:

  • AsylumWorks
  • Breastfeeding Outreach for Greater Washington
  • Day Eight
  • Ellington Fund
  • Latin American Youth Center
  • The DC Center for the LGBT Community
  • Young Playwrights’ Theater Inc.
  • The Wanda Alston Foundation
  • Total Family Care Coalition

On Saturday, at 11 a.m. Bowser and the Mayor’s Office on Community Affairs will host an Open House Meet and Greet at the Reeves Center to give residents an opportunity to learn more about the 12 constituent offices within the office and the services and resources they provide.

In addition to the community grants, Bowser’s office also announced an increase in the Housing Older People Efficiently, or HOPE, LGBTQ Senior Housing Voucher.

The FY22 budget included new funding for 20 dedicated vouchers for LGBTQ seniors and 20 for LGBTQ adults.

In FY22, funding increased by $479,293 for LGBTQ seniors 62 and over, and $433,340 for LGBTQ adults.

“There are many ways to ensure that everyone in our community can live happy, healthy lives and so often that work starts by ensuring people have access to safe and affordable housing. We look forward to showcasing these resources and many others during Saturday’s Open House,” Bowser said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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