USAID Helps Open 1st Shelter in Balkans for LGBT Community

Dedication plaque
Dedication plaque of the Streha Emergency Shelter for LGBT individuals in Albania.
Clare Masson, USAID/Albania

For Immediate Release

Monday, December 15, 2014
Stephanie A. Pepi

ALBANIA--Today, Deputy Chief of Mission, Henry Jardine, and the Minister of Social Welfare and Youth, ErionVeliaj, toured an emergency shelter, called "Streha," to support LGBT individuals as part of its official opening.  As LGBT issues in Albania are gaining wider exposure and as more LGBT individuals have established contacts with one another and formed small communities, the number of LGBT persons coming out to their families and friends has increased.  This has placed LGBT persons, especially those at a younger age and who are still financially dependent on their families, at risk of physical violence, psychological violence, as well as homelessness, due to eviction from their homes.  In such circumstances, LGBT individuals become even more vulnerable to violence and abuse, and often face sexual exploitation.

In addition to USAID funding and support, the shelter is supported by the Albert Kennedy Trust, funded by the UK Embassy in Tirana, Albania’s Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, and Albania’s Agency for the Support for Civil Society (AMSCH).  Aleanca LGBT and ProLGBT will operate the shelter.

Individuals admitted into the shelter will not be allowed to stay for more than 6 months and will need to work with the shelter’s psychologist and social worker, as well as participate in job training and educational opportunities. Streha's ultimate goal is for beneficiaries to be transitioned back into their homes or communities in a safe and sustainable way.