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Hillcrest Youth Center opens its doors to LGBTQ+ community

After 22 years of renting, The San Diego LGBT Community Center bought a home to use as a safe place for those ages 10 to 24.

SAN DIEGO — This housewarming party was 22 years in the making. For that long, The San Diego LGBT community center rented space to help serve its youth community. With fundraisers and private and public donations, they could finally purchase the $1.6 million home called the Hillcrest Youth Center. 

“So many of us were LGBTQ youth, and we struggled thru that time," said Cara Dessert, CEO of The San Diego LGBT Community Center.

For Cara Dessert, it’s more than just a place to hang out. She talked about the hurt and fear that many teenagers in the LGBTQ+ community endure. 

In the LGBTQ youth community, the Trevor Project reports 45 percent have seriously considered suicide, and 60 percent who wanted help with mental health couldn’t get it. 

 “A space like this where youth can be themselves with other youth like them and for those in crisis get the help they need is just an incredible resource," Dessert said.

Acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has grown, according to a UCLA study, and leaders like Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins have led the way, but everyone has a story. 

”I came out in a rural community. I had a love for my parents, and that made the difference. Not all kids have that," Atkins said. 

With resources like a computer lab, meeting rooms, and lounge areas, the 25-hundred-square-foot property expects to serve up to a hundred a day. Since 2016, there have been more than 17,000 youth service visits at the Youth center. 

The center is open Monday thru Friday from 3-7 p.m., serving different ages on different days. They hope to expand those hours in the summer but need more donations. 

Click here for more details about the center.

WATCH RELATED: Number of Americans self-identifying as LGBTQ+ has doubled in the last ten years

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