When Mary* lost her home, she turned to a local shelter for help. What she found was abuse and sexual assault.
For transgender people like Mary, the experience of being homeless is dangerous and hostile.
“The world is unsafe for LGBTQ+ people,” says Lead Mobile Clinic Provider Danny Resnick who works closely with LGBTQ+ clients. “This community often faces rejection by family, friends and society.”
LGBTQ+ youth are most affected. According to the True Colors Fund, LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts—likely because 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ teens are kicked out of their homes, while others face abuse that causes them to run away.
We often think shelters and health care providers are more welcoming, but sometimes they aren’t prepared to support LGBTQ+ people. Shelters that receive federal funds are legally required to respect a client’s gender identity, but for shelters that don’t, it’s up in the air. Others face abuse because of their sexual orientation or gender identities.
Those experiences made lasting impressions on Mary.
When Case Manager Eva Hendrix-Shovlin met Mary through our mobile clinic, she was traumatized and skeptical she could ever find a safe space. She didn’t want to apply for a women’s housing program, afraid she would be harassed and discriminated against.
Because of your support, staff members like Danny and Eva spend time building trust with our LGBTQ+ community members and identifying options that are right for them. Eventually, Eva helped Mary apply for the housing program and stayed with her through the process.
Mary moved into her own home this June, and Eva is celebrating with her. “I’m so glad she never gave up,” Eva says. We are, too.
Thank you for recognizing the bravery it takes to stand confidently in one’s identity and for supporting our work so that all LGBTQ+ community members experiencing homelessness have a place to turn.
How can you help? If you know a LGBTQ+ person experiencing homelessness, let them know they are welcome here. Also, share resources from our friends at the Youth Empowerment Society (YES) to connect LGBTQ+ youth to additional services.
* To protect privacy, we have changed her name.