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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 17
Big changes for Lambert House:
Youth center must buy building or move
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Big changes for Lambert House:
Youth center must buy building or move

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Lambert House, which has been Seattle's LGBT youth center for the past 35 years, must either buy its iconic old house at 15th Avenue and Denny Way or find a new location, according to executive director Ken Shulman.

'We have to come up with $2 million before the end of the year,' Shulman told SGN, if the organization wants to buy its current location.

'The existence of Lambert House is not threatened,' Shulman said, echoing a press release sent out April 6, but the youth center must undertake an intensive capital campaign to purchase either its current location or a new space.

'It was kind of a kick in the pants,' Shulman told SGN. 'We'd been considering launching a capital campaign for a long time. Now we have to go ahead with it.'

Lambert House's landlords have agreed to give the center a short-term lease through the end of 2016 -'for which we're very grateful,' Shulman says -but then they must buy the property or move.

Simply shutting down is not an option, Shulman insists, because 'Lambert House is a one-of-a-kind organization. It's the only place that specializes in social services for LGBT youth.

'There are other groups that serve youth in general, and other LGBT youth organizations, but Lambert House is the only one that deals specifically with the constellation of risks that LGBT youth face and offers them services and social support.'

The center helped 603 young people in 2015, including dozens of homeless youth, through an estimated 15,000 individual contacts. While Lambert House is based on Capitol Hill, the youth it serves come from an estimated 135 ZIP codes 'throughout King County and beyond,' according to the center's press release.

SGN readers who wish to donate to Lambert House can find out how to do so via their web page, by clicking on 'How to Help.'

Shulman says that if the center has to move to a new location, they want one similar to their current old house.

'The youth have expressed a strong preference for a building they describe as 'homey,' Shulman told SGN. 'They like the old house. I've heard that for years.

'The thing they want to avoid at all costs is an office-like setting, like a counseling office, or a government office. They don't want that at all.'

Fortunately, Shulman says, there are suitable houses for sale on Capitol Hill, but 'we'll need $2.5-3 million' to buy one.

Even then, there will be drawbacks, he added.

'They're usually less space than we have now, they're served by fewer bus lines, they're farther from the [Broadway] light rail station than we are. We could make it work, but we'd rather stay in our current location,' he said.

Shulman says he has had initial conversations with city officials about funding to purchase their current location. San Francisco's city government purchased Lyric House, the equivalent to Lambert House in the Bay Area, he noted.

In any case, Shulman said, their lease on their present location gives Lambert House 'a window to raise money. A short window. Still, it's a window. Worst-case scenario, we will find another place to lease, while we continue our capital campaign for an eventual purchase.'

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