First trans-focused LGBTQ plus safe haven coming to Philadelphia

A new shelter that prioritizes transgender women of color is opening in North Philadelphia at the beginning of October.

The Ark of Safety LGBTQ+ Safe Haven is an 8-bed emergency shelter that will also support four permanent beds for a rapid rehousing program. The shelter, which is set to open on October 3, was founded by a trans woman who said she was inspired to open a safe haven like this because it would have helped her decades ago. 

Tatyana Woodard, founder and Executive Director of Ark of Safety LGBTQ+ Safe Haven, left home when she was just 14 years old. After years of experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, Woodard decided she wanted to create a housing program that gives LGBTQ people not just a place to rest their head at night, but also opportunities to access resources designed specifically for queer and trans people.

For the last ten years, Woodard has been advocating for the LGBTQ community, often trying to provide people with resources and services, including housing. 

"We are prioritizing trans-women, and that’s because we are [experiencing] a higher alarming rate of violence," said Woodard. "We want to show the same love that God has displayed to all of us to a marginalized community that’s often thrown away, ostracized, and not treated welly."


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In January, police investigated a brutal attack against a transgender woman near Rosehill and East Westmoreland streets. Then, in 2020, police investigated the murder of Dominique Rem'mie Fells whose body was pulled from the Schuylkill River. 

The shelter will have a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, two full bathrooms, a living room, and a meeting room. Twice a month, the shelter's resources will be available to other members of the LGBTQ community so that those who are experiencing homelessness can access showers and appliances. 

Woodward says the goal of the six-month rapid housing program is to provide resources and education on life skills, financial literacy, and empowerment. She's also hoping that the shelter will save lives.  

"Hoping that young 16-year-old that’s feeling misunderstood or not seen now has a place and a resource where they’ll be safe. Where they will have a roof over their head and where they can be connected to other services that will help them," said Woodard. "We want to be thoughtful, we want to be trauma-informed, and we want to operate from a place of love."

If you’re interested in learning more about the Ark of Safety’s services, you can email

The new shelter continues to raise money to cover ongoing expenses through a gofundme campaign.