*This story has been updated with the next leadership steps for the LGBTQ Home For Hope.
The director of the first LGBT-specific homeless shelter in Pennsylvania stepped down from her position Wednesday. Deja Lynn Alvarez confirmed to PGN her resignation for the LGBTQ Home For Hope.
“It is with a lot of soul-searching and deep thought that I have resigned as director of the Home For Hope,” Alvarez said in an email to PGN. “Unfortunately, there has been a lot of infighting within the community in which I have been the recipient of a lot of hate and vitriol. All of that has taken away from the work that needs to be done to help those that need it most. I feel I have left the home in good hands with [owner] Sakina Dean and will still assist in any way needed for the community. As always my heart and all the work I do is with and for our community.”
Dean did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Sharron Cooks, the former chair of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, has contended several times on social media that Home for Hope’s 501c3 nonprofit status was revoked for a period of time. She recently posted screenshots on Facebook of Home for Hope’s GoFundMe page, contending the organization was fundraising during a time the nonprofit status was not active. A statement from Home For Hope issued June 6 described that the shelter is currently “working with consulting firm Making Our Lives Easier LLC CEO Sharron Cooks to assist in facilitating the leadership transition and LGBTQ program development for the LGBTQ Hope for Hope.” It further listed Dean as executive director of the home.
Alvarez declined to comment on the claims regarding the organization’s nonprofit status.
“The home and the residents are more important than any one person, including myself, and I want each of them to know that I love them and am still here for every one of them,” Alvarez told PGN. “I wish [Sakina Dean] and the home the best of luck.”
DVLF recognized Alvarez for her work with the organization at its 10th-annual HEROES Awards in 2016; PGN also named Alvarez its 2016 Person of the Year. Under Alvarez’s leadership, the shelter received the Urban Initiative Award last year for its approach to fighting LGBT homelessness.