FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jama Shelton
Tel: (646) 797-6107
Email: [email protected]
Initiative Underway in Hamilton County, OH and Harris County, TX
WASHINGTON D.C., February 6, 2015 – Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the True Colors Fund are excited to announce the beginning stages of implementation of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, a first-of-its-kind effort to identify successful strategies to ensure that no young person is left without a home because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD and the True Colors Fund have been working together since 2013 to conceive the elements of the Initiative, which is now ready to be implemented in Harris County, TX and Hamilton County, OH.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth comprise up to 40% of the homeless youth population in the United States, yet they make up only 5-7% of the general youth population. Family conflict is the most frequently reported reason that young people experience homelessness, and for LGBTQ youth, that conflict is often related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Every American should have access to decent, affordable housing. It’s a tragedy that so many LGBTQ youth are being mistreated simply because of who they are, making them particularly vulnerable to homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “Our partnership with the True Colors Fund and these two communities will help ensure that these young folks have a place to call home and an opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
The initiative, which is being conducted over the next two years will develop and evaluate strategies to prevent LGBTQ youth from becoming homeless or intervene as early as possible once they do become homeless. A central goal is to work with families and youth to address the conflict in the home and identify opportunities to prevent the conflict in the first place. Once the initiative is completed, the resources and tools developed can be replicated and implemented in communities across the country.
“No young person deserves to be homeless, let alone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must stand with America’s next generation to ensure that they all have a safe and supportive place to call home,” said Cyndi Lauper, co-founder of the True Colors Fund. “If we truly want to end youth homelessness, which is a fixable issue, then we have to invest in prevention and support communities as they work to implement these life-changing efforts.”
Dozens of collaborators within each of the two communities developed the plans, including teachers, faith leaders, homeless youth service providers, counselors, police officers, advocates, and young people themselves. “I refuse to be another story of neglect, abuse, and shame,” said Daniella Carter, 20, who was featured on MTV/Logo’s The T Word and is an advocate working with the True Colors Fund. “Help us turn the unimaginable into reality.”
This initiative was developed by and is supported by five Federal Government partners – the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) – and the nonprofit organization the True Colors Fund. The two communities have received targeted technical assistance from both HUD and the True Colors Fund to help implement the initiative.
The Harris County collaborative, named NEST, is being led by the Montrose Center. “With over 2,000 chronically homeless individuals, and more than 2,800 homeless veterans housed since January 2012, we are working to end all youth and family homelessness,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “Having adopted a homeless youth, my family knows too well the perils that these children face living on our streets. We are excited to be working with our national partners at HUD and the True Colors Fund to kick start our efforts to prevent LGBTQ youth homelessness here in Houston.”
In Hamilton County, Lighthouse Youth Services and Strategies to End Homelessness are leading the Safe and Supported plan to prevent homelessness for LGBTQ youth. “I strongly support the efforts of the Safe and Supported Initiative in helping to prevent homelessness for LGBTQ youth,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “Until recently, little attention was paid to this problem. We must all commit to working together to extend a helping hand and make sure no one suffers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
These organizations in both communities are joined by countless others who have participated in the planning and will help facilitate the implementation of the plans, ensuring their alignment with local efforts to address homelessness that are already underway.
For more information about the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative in Harris County, please visit http://www.montrosecenter.org/hub/nest-home/, and in Hamilton County, please visit https://www.strategiestoendhomelessness.org/ending-homelessness/systemic-initiatives/.
The True Colors Fund was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper to raise awareness about and bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness through a broad continuum of public education and engagement, advocacy and public policy, youth collaboration, research, and community building programs. www.truecolorsunited.org
The Montrose Center empowers our community, primarily gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families, to enjoy healthier and more fulfilling lives. www.montrosecenter.org
Since 2007, Strategies To End Homelessness has lead a comprehensive system of care to assist the homeless in Cincinnati/Hamilton County. Our promise is to end homelessness in our community. Working in partnership with 30 non-profit organizations, Strategies To End Homelessness coordinates homelessness prevention, street outreach, emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing resources toward the goal of ending homelessness. As a result, our community has seen an increase in the number of people served in supportive housing, and an increase of 1,800 people receiving homelessness prevention services. Through the work of Strategies To End Homelessness, Cincinnati is recognized nationally as a leader in implementing innovative and effective programs to end homelessness. Strategies to End Homelessness is funded in part by the City of Cincinnati, is a United Way Agency Partner, and is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. To learn more about Strategies To End Homelessness, and the community’s integrated network of homeless services agencies, visit: www.strategiestoendhomelessness.org
Lighthouse Youth Services provides a wide range of residential, educational, mental health support services for children, youth, and families. Since 1969 Lighthouse Youth Services has received national recognition as an innovator in services for families in crisis; housing for homeless teens; residential treatment for young people; education, counseling and training for youth and families. Lighthouse operates the area’s only direct access around-the-clock crisis shelter for runaways and homeless youth and is the largest provider of foster care in Hamilton County. LYS also operates the only state-supported private juvenile corrections program for serious juvenile felons, Lighthouse Youth Center at Paint Creek, serving youth from all over Ohio. Lighthouse Youth Services is funded in part by the City of Cincinnati, is a United Way Agency Partner, and is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. For more information, visit www.lys.org.