When most people think of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender homeless (LGBT), they think of youth. Young folks who may have been kicked out and disowned by their families. But homelessness is not just a problem for LGBT youth, LGBT adults can become homeless as well for a variety of reasons: financial, escaping a dangerous or abusive situation, etc. As within larger society, LGBT people don’t always face welcome or acceptance in adult homeless shelters. The shelters can become as dangerous as the situation the LGBT person was leaving. San Francisco is hoping to address this problem in some small part by opening the first homeless shelter geared to homeless LGBT adults.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
In a city where nearly a third of the homeless population is gay or transgender, the shelter will make a small dent — it has just 24 beds. But supporters say it is a groundbreaking initiative that could offer a blueprint for similar efforts nationwide.
“This is so much bigger than 24 beds,” said Bevan Dufty, the mayor’s point person on homelessness. “It’s about looking at the homeless service system and asking, ‘How can we do a much better job for LGBT people?’”
Steven R. Berg, vice president for programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, said other cities have homeless shelters for LGBT youth up to 25 years old, but none that extend to adults.
“It’s the first we’ve heard of it,” Berg said.
Filling a big need
The idea grew out of a 2010 San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing that found many of the city’s LGBT homeless don’t feel safe or welcome in the large, existing shelters. A 2013 survey by the city underscored the problem: 29 percent of the city’s roughly 6,400 homeless people said they were LGBT.