A nonprofit in Tennessee is building tiny houses for homeless transgender women
My Sistah’s House is giving trans women their first experiences in homeownership.
2020 was a year most of us wish we could forget.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country, the police murder of George Floyd led to endless uprisings all over the country, and hate crimes against trans women skyrocketed.
But one woman in Tennessee is building a nonprofit to support trans women by housing them.
Kayla Gore, a native of Tennessee, and the co-founder of My Sistah’s House, has experienced homelessness for over 10 years. She knows what it feels like to worry how she will get her next meal and if she will survive the night.
“I was taught how to sleep on buildings and how to hide my clothes at night,” Gore explained to CBS News.
There are no housing protection laws in the state of Tennessee that would support trans people on the brink of homelessness.
Tennessee is also an at-will state, meaning an employer can dismiss an employee without any reasoning, as long as it is not illegal. Laws like it affect LGBTQ and people of color more than others. The jobs they often can get are also menial and pay little.
"A lot of people will not understand, like, the experiences of trans people, not having access to jobs in the first place," Gore said. "We have access to menial jobs, like in a warehouse.”
On top of the lack of unemployment, people of trans people have to face sexual harassment, and sometimes physical violence that usually leads to murder.
In 2020 alone, 44 trans people were murdered.
A majority of these victims were Black or Latinx.
The experiences and prejudices that Gore went through on a daily basis gave her the strength to give back to members of the LGBTQ community by providing hot meals and toiletries every Thursday at a local park in Memphis.
The issue of homelessness also called her to action. More than half of trans women have experienced homelessness. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem was only exacerbated.
Gore began housing women at her own place to help, but the demand soon became too much and she had to come up with a better solution.
“People were not able to work, and people were coming here but we just didn’t have the capacity to house people,” she said.
A solution was found by creating her own Tiny House Project, called My Sistah’s House.
The nonprofit also benefited from raking in $600,000 in donations to get the project off its feet. With the money, Gore was able to buy land and build 20 400 square foot houses on the space.
She explained that the trans women that now live in them are homeowners, and never have to go back to the streets again.
“Providing these homes to trans folks is giving them access to safety and security,” Gore said.
Along with the houses, Gore has also built a relationship with the new homeowners and is proud to say that more trans women in her neighborhood are off of the street thanks to her efforts
“I feel like I’m giving them a pathway to success in life,” she said.
To learn more about My Sistah’s House, check out their website.