There are about 1.6 million homeless youth in the U.S., and they overwhelmingly identify as LGBT+ individuals. Less than ten percent of young people identify as LGBT+, but over 40 percent of homeless youth do, as reported from Chapin Hill.
In DC, that number is even higher at 43% of homeless youth identifying as LGBT+ which has made its way to becoming a priority of Mayor Bowser’s initiative to ensure that LGBT+ youth have access to safe affordable housing, healthcare and preventative care, case management, and support systems they can rely on when they may not have that in their biological family.
As the District dives deeper into action for the Solid Foundations DC: Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness, we recognize that the LGBT+ identifying youth in DC face barriers to success at significantly higher rates than their straight peers.
A recent article from the Washington Blade highlights the ways in which we need to further develop LGBT+ support in our social services organizations and shelters as well as feedback from listening sessions with service providers in the District.
According to service providers, additional reasons for homelessness include aging out of the foster care system, poverty, and conflict in the home. Often, it’s not one thing that causes homelessness, but a combination of many as said by the True Colors Fund.
LGBT+ people are already more likely to be targets of a hate crime than any other minority group, so being forced out of their homes due to their sexual orientation is sadly unsurprising. And this is higher among young LGBT+ parents, who are three times more likely to experience homelessness in comparison to their non-parenting peers.
While progress is slow, the action of the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act, which the D.C. Council passed unanimously in 2014 is a step in the right direction. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and then Council member Bowser (D-Ward 4) were the co-introducers of the legislation. Among other things, the measure allocates city funds for expanding existing homeless facilities, including shelters, to include additional beds for LGBT+ identifying youth.
We will continue to show our support for more comprehensive funding for the programs in the District that benefit LGBT+ homeless youth as we move forward from Pride month into the rest of the calendar year. Read more about resources in the District and how we stack up compared to other states in the US, below.
DC Resources for LGBT+ Identifying Youth & Adults in a Housing Crisis
Casa Ruby Emergency Hotline: 202-355-5155
SMYAL: Empowering LGBTQ youth
SMYAL Contact Information: 202.546.5940
How Does DC stand comparatively to other states?
True Colors Fund has a State index on Youth Homelessness which includes information based on current: Law & Policy, Systems, and Environment. You can see how DC stacks up: Washington DC Youth Homelessness Index and see their recommendations for improvement.