Another study has just been released that confirms what so many of us in the queer community already know: 40% of homeless youth in America identify as LGBT. The report, which was conducted by the Williams Institute, the Palette Fund and Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, is based on data from 381 respondents representing 354 agencies that work with homeless youth.
Ninety-four percent of those agencies say that 30% of their clients are gay or lesbian, 9% bisexual, and 1% transgender (for a grand total of 40%).
Says Laura E. Durso, a study co-author and Williams Institute Public Policy Fellow: “The findings from this survey demonstrate that many LGBT youth are at high risk of homelessness, often as a result of family rejection and abuse.” In fact, seven in ten (68%) of respondents cited family rejection as a major factor in their ending up on the streets.
No shit, Sherlock.
Now what are we going to do about it?
Gay, Inc., or the mainstream LGBT organizations such as Human Rights Campaign that spend tons of dough pushing marriage, gays in the military and the usual lineup of candidates for political office, will no doubt ignore this study as they have the previous ones that showed similar results. One of those studies was conducted by the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homelessness in 2006. It called homelessness an epidemic in our community.
It is, and has been for years.
In San Francisco during the dot-com boom of the late 90s, homelessness among queer youth shot up as rents doubled and tripled and landlords in the Castro and other neighborhoods used every trick in the books to drive out longterm renters under rent control so that they could rake in big bucks renting to tech workers.
When activists set up services such as a food program, a place to shower and temporary shelters for the homeless youth lining the streets of the Castro, mainstream movement groups and leaders stuck their heads in the sand as neighbors and merchants organized to shut them down. In some cases they were successful.
These days, the services are inadequate to meet the tremendous need, especially for affordable housing, among queer youth who make up 40% of the homeless young folks in the city.
It’s not just youth who are in dire need. According to another Williams Institute study, the rate of poverty in the LGBT community is as high as, and in some instances higher than, any other community. That report generated buzz for a few seconds and then got put on the shelf along with all the other studies that get routinely ignored.
When Pedro Villamore, a 44-year-old gay man, died homeless in a doorway along busy Castro Street almost a year ago, there was no outcry from the community. Too bad he wasn’t denied a marriage license. That would have sparked outrage from sea to shining sea.
Instead, he’s just another faceless stat in an epidemic that’s being allowed to rage out of control.