In January, members of Seattle collective Queer the Land accomplished a dream that was years in the making: buying their own home to support queer people of color experiencing homelessness.
“It feels amazing,” said Housing Coordinator Evana Enabulele. “It feels like finally it has happened. When it first happened, I was sobbing…To be able to give people housing…It’s indescribable.”
Queer the Land formed in 2016, when members of two other queer collectives came together to design solutions to the high levels of homelessness currently facing their communities.
“It was groups of folks who were tired of their friends and family and community being pressed out by gentrification,” said Enabulele, “and tired of folks doing GoFundMe’s because of being homeless.”
For the past few years, Queer the Land has engaged in a number of mutual aid programs to support the community while simultaneously working to raise and save money to purchase a home.
On January 15th, 2021, after a full year of negotiations, the purchase was made.
Enabulele, who participated in the entire legal process of the purchase, said it was extremely challenging.
“I cannot convey how difficult it was when it comes to the racism we faced around purchasing the house. It was just very difficult, and it shouldn’t have taken a year…One of my proudest moments was being able to persevere during a pandemic.”
“It kind of feels unbelievable,” added Linda Chastine, Communications and Development Coordinator. “It feels really good to be able to take a little piece of the figurative pie from all the things Black and indigenous queer and trans and Two-Spirit people of color have had to undergo for hundreds of years in this country…It gives me so much confidence and faith and energy to claim more abundance for Queer the Land and for myself and for my community in the future.”
The 12-bedroom, 3-story house will need about a year of repairs before anyone moves in. When it’s finished, about eight to ten people will be able to live there.
In addition to the living quarters, the house will be used as a community gathering space for other Queer the Land members. There will be a garden to grow food, an apothecary, a food pantry, office space, and a basement folks can use for events.
Enabulele said the co-op should ultimately work like “a small economy, disrupting capitalism.”
Queer the Land’s other big accomplishment is that through donations and grants, including one for $200,000 from Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative, the group was able to obtain the house without a mortgage.
Chastine and Enabulele both emphasized that a big goal of Queer the Land is to ultimately form its own land trust.
“My hope for Queer the Land…is we continue to develop the leadership and creativity and authority and experience of Black queer and trans folks in our work,” Chastine added, “and that we continue to center the needs of Black and indigenous queer and trans Two-Spirit people…Just providing our community with resources to sustain and to live in abundance and to thrive.”