Baltimore Safe Haven

Impact Stories Banner - Iya Dammons, founder of Baltimore Safe Haven

In Baltimore and many different cities throughout the country, the month of June is observed to celebrate Pride – an annual celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and to raise awareness of the community and their contributions to society. 

Founded in 2018, Baltimore Safe Haven (BSH) is a gem that continues to make Charm City so special. BSH continues to be one of the largest direct service providers and the only housing provider for members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the State of Maryland. Iya Dammons, the organization’s founder and CEO accredits her experiences with what fuels her passion for helping the community, “My passion to serve others came from within. I am a product of the environment of people that I serve, and I am a fair representation of those people.”  

Although the path to homelessness may differ from person to person, for Dammons and many members of the LGBTQIA+ community it includes some of the same factors. Through her own experiences as a Trans woman of color, Dammons saw that there was a clear disconnect in the system and many discriminatory practices that members of the community faced when trying to access services. “The root of homelessness for me looked like living in survival mode. Something had to be done,” said Dammons.

Dammons saw this, coupled with the need for safe and affirming spaces and decided to be the change that she wanted to see. Representation is a major factor in what makes BSH a dynamic and impactful organization. It is important for members of the community to have people who look like them with similar experiences on the front lines providing services which aid in the overarching goal of identifying the root causes that contribute to homelessness in the LGBTQIA+ community. “Baltimoreans, you must know that inclusion is everything for LGBTQ folks. This Pride, I want you to remember Meghan Lewis, and remember that Pride was a riot started by Black Trans woman of color,” said Dammons. 

For more information about Baltimore Safe Haven, and how to get involved, visit www.baltimoresafehaven.org

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