Central Arkansas LGBT shelter addresses house closure, new leadership

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — This past week, people took to social media after Lucie’s Place made some significant changes.

One of those changes being the closure of the youth home. It’s a place for homeless LGBT young adults to stay while they get the resources they need.

“It’s not the first time there had been issues between the neighborhood and the house, and difficulties between residents and staff,” said Lucie’s Place Interim Executive Director Andrea Zekis.

“There were issues all around, but it was ultimately an unsafe environment for the young people that were there,” said Zekis.

Zekis told us when those seeking the organization’s services started to feel unsafe, they left. That’s when the house shut down.

RELATED: Locals say church’s split over gay marriage and LGBTQ clergy rights is ‘hurtful and disappointing’

“When you have a pandemic on top of that as well, and in an environment of lockdown with folks who may not be prepared to handle that… you know, conversations should have happened much sooner,” said Zekis.

This is not the first time the house shut down. Zekis told us a couple years prior, the house shut down due to some of the same problems that happened recently.

This sparked an overhaul of leadership. The former executive director of Lucie’s Place turned in her resignation, and two new board members have been added.

The organization is adding members who identify as LGBT, and who have the skills to handle non-profit and social work.

After the closure of the house, some of the staff at Lucie’s Place formed a union. 

THV11 reached out for comment from the Resident Assistants Union for Lucie’s Place, but we did not get a response. 

Social media posts from the union say they are demanding more LGBT representation within the organization and for those displaced to have alternative housing.

RELATED: Lucie’s Place receives threatening letter over group home for LGBT homeless

“The board has voluntarily recognized the right to unionize and we will go through those processes,” said Zekis.

The ultimate goal for Lucie’s Place is to continue its mission to make sure LGBT people feel safe and welcome.

“We want to be there for the people that were displaced and provide them with services, but we also want to be there for the many people in the future who are dealing with homelessness,” said Zekis.

The house will continue to stay closed until Lucie’s Place can make sure those staying there will be safe.

Those displaced are still eligible for services and resources through the organization.