We just got back from Pinellas County, FL, and let me tell you, the community is fired up about ending LGBTQ youth homelessness!
This winter, local organizations, homeless youth service providers, artists, police, educators, funders, and young people themselves came together to conduct a community-wide count of youth experiencing homelessness in Pinellas County. This count not only provided data about how many young people experience homelessness in the community, but offered some valuable insight into what a local solution to LGBTQ youth homelessness could look like.
Here’s an overview of what they learned:
- Identity-based rejection is one of the most common reasons LGBTQ young people experience homelessness. Diversity and inclusion trainings for parents, teachers, faith-leaders, service providers, and others is an effective way to prepare community leaders to accept young people when they come out.
- Ending LGBTQ youth homelessness requires a community-wide investment and open communication. If Pinellas County’s strategy is to be effective, housing, behavioral health, health care, substance misuse, and education services must be working in tandem to serve each young person.
- Young people thrive when they make lasting connections with their community. For LGBTQ youth specifically, having an LGBTQ mentor to look up or a tight knit social group is crucial – especially when family rejection is a reality faced by many.
- Young people who have experienced homelessness must be a part of the community’s response to end youth homelessness.
- It isn’t enough to simply house the homeless. A truly successful solution to LGBTQ youth homelessness identifies young people at-risk of homelessness and connects them with the supportive services they need to thrive.
What’s next for Pinellas County?
The True Colors Fund is working with leaders in Pinellas County to create a community-wide plan to address youth homelessness. With everything we learned from the youth count, it’s a natural next step to keep the momentum going.
Here’s what the next couple months will look like:
We’ll keep you informed every step of the way! Spread the word online and let’s cheer Pinellas County on as they undertake this important work.