LGBT Homeless Youth Shelters and Residences

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Many traditional homeless shelters or group homes and residences are not the best place for LGBT youth. A lot don't understand the specific needs of LGBT young people. Some that are run by religious organizations may be hostile to gay teens, and sadly, some shelters are just not safe for LGBT teens.

Finding an LGBT-Friendly Shelter

If at all possible, LGBT teens who are facing homelessness, or who are already homeless, should try to locate LGBT-friendly services. When dealing with a crisis like homelessness, the last thing you need is a hostile or homophobic service provider.

In many places this simply won't be an option, but more and more cities around the United States are offering not only LGBT-friendly homeless services, but LGBT-friendly homeless shelters and residences as well.

One of these, The Ali Forney Center in New York, has complied a list of such resources in 16 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Here are some examples:

The Waltham House, Massachusettes: The Waltham House is Massachusetts-based group home program designed to provide a safe and supportive living environment for LGBTQ youth ages 14-18.

Opened in 2002, the home offers housing, therapy, health care services, education, and life skills development. Waltham House is run by The Home for Little Wanderers, a private, nonprofit child welfare agency that assists children in state custody.

The Ruth Ellis Center, Michigan: The Ruth Ellis Center serves Southeastern Michigan. It's mission is to provide short-term and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth ages 12 to 21.

The center offers housing, skill building, educational and job preparation, physical and mental health care.

The center is named after Ruth Ellis, a lesbian who lived in Detroit from 1938 until her death in 2000. Known for forming a community base for African-American gay men and lesbians out of her home, the center bearing her named opened in 1999.

The Ali Forney Center, New York: The Ali Forney Center is based in New York and was named after a queer youth who was killed on the street in 1997.

The center opened in 2002 and it is designed to serve LGBT youth aged 16 to 24 years, by offering safe shelter, street outreach, case management, primary medical care, HIV testing, mental health assessment and treatment, food and showers, employment assistance.

In 2009, Bea Arthur, the star of the TV series The Golden Girls, left $300,000 to the center, and in 2012, the Ali Forney Center announced that the New York City Council and the Manhattan borough president had designated $3.3 million to help renovate a city-owned building and transform it into a new 18-bed shelter named for Bea Arthur.

Other LGBT Youth Shelters and Homes

A number of other LGBT youth shelters and homes exist. These include places like:

  • True Colors, a transitional housing program for formerly homeless LGBT youth 18-23 in New York City.
  • Trinity Place Shelter a non-sectarian New York-based transitional shelter designed to provide LGBT youth and young adults with a safe place to sleep, eat, store belongings, have access to transportation, counseling, and additional independent living services.
  • The Ark of Refuge provides 12 to 18 months of transitional housing for young adults in San Francisco. The program is geared towards LGBT youth.

It is also important to know that in extreme cases, teens can seek legal emancipation from parents which offers minors the legal rights and responsibilities of adults.

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