Homelessness in New York City is a problem. We all know this, and most of us can relate to struggling to find reasonable, affordable housing here in the city. But most of us have never faced homelessness, especially as young people, and certainly not because our parents kicked us out of the house just because of who we are. For many LGBTQ youth, however, homelessness is an everyday reality.
LGBTQ youth make up 40% of the homeless youth population, despite comprising a much smaller proportion of the general population. In fact, LGBT youth are 8 times more likely to experience homelessness than their heterosexual counterparts. Coming out to parent carries a risk of homelessness more often than we would imagine. Many homeless youth come to New York City from other parts of the country, perhaps hoping to find the acceptance they never had back home. Others were born here and never left.
Caring for Homeless LGBTQ Youth
However they came to be homeless, because they are subject to greater violence and discrimination, LGBTQ youth require greater care than heterosexual homeless youth. For one thing, many ‘mainstream’ homeless shelters aren’t trained to properly work with LGBTQ youth. Many are turned away from shelters, and those who are allowed in face increased risk of violence and sexual assault from others in the shelter. Other service LGBTQ youth may require include mental health and education assistance.
For example, nearly one third of LGBTQ students drop out of high school to escape harassment, violence and isolation. Without a high school diploma, homelessness and poverty can be self-perpetuating. Also, LGBTQ youth experience greater levels of sexual assault, trauma, stalking violence and substance abuse issues. To make matters worse, finding suitable and affordable housing in New York City is difficult for just about all but the wealthiest among us.
With all the difficulties LGBTQ youth face, homelessness, and especially hunger, shouldn’t be one of them.
Make a Difference
On Saturday, August 18th, Compassion NYC will join up with One Sandwich at a Time for a special LBGTQ sandwich build! Spaces are limited, so register today to be participate in this event and help feed over 200 homeless LGBTQ youth, One Sandwich at a Time!