House of Tulip was born as a response to the homelessness crisis in Louisiana that disproportionately affects trans and gender-nonconforming individuals. Drawing on their own experiences, innovative community members came up with the idea of a housing project specifically aimed at trans and gender-nonconforming people who are having difficulties finding a stable living situation. While its primary function will be to house up to 10 people at a time, House of Tulip also plans to serve the community in other ways, which will be largely informed by the people they serve. Through local fundraisers and a widely shared GoFundMe page, the organization recently surpassed its initial fundraising goal of $400,000, which will allow for the purchase of a property and the beginning of renovations.
Co-founder and co-executive director Mariah Moore notes that the organization wasn't inspired by any pre-existing group. In fact, that's part of what makes House of Tulip's work so vital. Because it was developed by and centers the voices of those in the community, House of Tulip is more likely to meet those needs to which more traditional institutions might not be attuned.
Homelessness is an ever-present threat for trans individuals, and the House of Tulip website notes that a third of Louisianan trans individuals report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives. Moore calls the trans community's proximity to homelessness "way too close for comfort," citing many trans people's experiences with couch-surfing, living hotel room to hotel room, or not knowing whether or not they'll make rent. In addition to offering housing, House of Tulip hopes to help combat this crisis by eventually offering classes in financial literacy and creating jobs within the organization. As the program grows, they would like to create a community center and continue the home-buying process, although what exactly that will look like depends on zoning laws.
The concept of land ownership is vital to understanding the goals of House of Tulip, and Moore stressed that the organization will never sell the land. Because land ownership and stability are so rare for trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, having a space secured seems almost sacred. It means that they're able to provide the necessary resources to the community with fewer regulations. The property is like an inheritance—a space that can always serve as home. By working with the city and a realty team, they've been able to navigate complicated zoning codes to create a plan that abides by the rules, while allowing for the creation of a communal living area.
It's not surprising that House of Tulip values intersectionality, and because of that, they've been supported by and offered support to a number of local organizations, such as Southern Solidarity, TRANScending Women, and CANScantSTAND. The individuals in the Founders Circle are all doing impressive and exciting work, whether that's working to link trans people to healthcare, providing marginalized communities representation through media, or pushing to create more equitable laws.
House of Tulip centers the experiences of transgender and nonconforming people, especially those who are people of color, sex workers, disabled, or undocumented. It is a space intended to aid some of the most marginalized members of our community. But Mariah Moore could not stress enough that this is a project for all queer people: "This is a part of our fight for liberation, our fight for freedom, our fight to have our humanity recognized. When I want people to talk about House of Tulip, I want people to say, 'This is for us. These are for our siblings, our sisters, our brothers… This is for us.'"
Though they've achieved immense success fundraising in only a few months, House of Tulip is hoping to raise $200,000 more before January 31, so that they can be fully operational by spring. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit their houseoftulip.org.