HOUSTON (KTRK) --The unassuming two-story building at 3611 Montrose Boulevard is now a safe place for some of society's most vulnerable. Tony's Place opened this week as a drop-in center for homeless, LGBT youth ages 13 to 24 years old.
The facility provides some of the most basic services people offer take for granted like a hot shower, laundry, and meals.
Eyewitness News recently toured Tony's Place and spoke with Al Amado. Amado is on the board of "Homeless Gay Kids Houston," which is the group behind Tony's Place.
Amado explained the late Houstonian Tony Carroll dreamed up the idea.
"Tony was also a therapist. His vision was to create this facility. He didn't see anything like it existing," said Amado. "He wanted this open, safe place that's like a home -- comforting, nurturing environment for the kids."
Amado said unaccepting families sometimes force gay teens out of their home. Other times, teenagers are so uncomfortable they simply flee the situation.
No one knows what a resource like Tony's Place can mean better than former Houston Mayor Annise Parker's son. She took Jovon Tyler into her family when he needed it the most.
At age 15, Tyler told abc13 he left his grandparents' house and ended up living on the streets of Montrose. He said at the time there was a facility like Tony's Place. It no longer exists.
"I decided on my own to leave home. I didn't discuss my sexuality with my guardians. I just decided it was best for me to leave. Paul Broussard had been killed and there were some young men having a protest in Montrose. I thought to myself that's where gays go. They go to Montrose," said Tyler. "I packed a bag. I left home. I came and lived on the streets of Montrose for the next year and a half. I slept on the bathroom floor in the Lyndon Johnson Hospital. I slept on the back of METRO buses. I would jump in peoples' backyards. It was important for me to feel free."
Tyler said a resource like Tony's Place can save lives.
"I would have died on the streets as well. That would have been a waste of life," said Tyler. "I'm grateful for Tony's Place because a generation will have a chance."
Tony's Place relies on donations and volunteers. They hope the community will support and get behind the project.