Within the homeless population, LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, are disproportionately more likely to experience homelessness and do not have access to the services and resources they need within the current system.
A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely to experience homelessness than straight, cisgender adults. Within the LGBTQ+ community, Black people are much more likely than non-black peers to experience homelessness at some point in their lives.
These rates are even higher among homeless youth. There are approximately 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States and LGBTQ+ youth represent 40% of that population. Over half report that the primary reason for homelessness is because of an unsupportive family environment. Additionally, about 60 percent of LGBTQ+ youth report feeling unsafe at school because of bullying and harassment suffered because of their identity.
In addition to being overrepresented within the population of homeless youth, LGBTQ+ children are also more likely to experience mental health disorders, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Transgender people also face unique issues in this space because shelters are typically segregated by gender and they can often be denied access to the correct shelter based on the gender identity. They can also struggle to access transition related care because in most states, Medicaid does not cover these services.
For this reason, PRIDE is launching a donation drive for the Haven Shelter to not only give back to our local community but raise awareness of the disproportionately high rates of homelessness experienced by LGBTQ+ youth and adults. We are also hoping to draw attention to the unique struggles of LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender people, who are experiencing homelessness.
There needs to be action in this policy area to increase support services for LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness and to decrease the number of LGBTQ+ people becoming homeless. LGBTQ+ youth need to be supported more within schools and within their homes to reduce the rates of homelessness. There also needs to be an expansion of Medicaid to include access to transition related care services in every state to ensure that transgender youth can access healthcare. Shelters and service providers also need to increase training so that their staff can provide competent care for LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness. However, this cannot happen without increased funding to those providing these important services. Communities should also support these shelters by providing them with the necessary resources they need to continue providing services to those experiencing homelessness. We hope you will join us in supporting the Haven Shelter through our resource drive. A full list of the items we are collecting for the Haven can be found on their website.
The views expressed above are solely the author's and are not endorsed by the Virginia Policy Review, The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, or the University of Virginia. Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in its activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization which is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts, or omissions.
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