Recommendations for the Western Michigan Community to Address LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness
Every day in West Michigan over 3,300 young people experience homelessness. (Source: Michigan’s Center of Educational Performance and Information) Youth that experience episodes of homelessness touch every zip code, every community, and every school district. Homelessness leaves youth vulnerable and at risk for abuse,
trafficking, victims of crime, and more.
Now imagine a young person who identifies as LGBTQ+ and is homeless. Where do you go to feel safe? Who do you tell? Will you be accepted or rejected? These are some of the unique challenges LGBTQ+ youth who experience homelessness face.
LGBTQ+ youth who find themselves homeless are incredibly strong and resilient, but they need the community’s support. Of the youth that are homeless in West Michigan, 15-20% identify at LGBTQ+. (Source: Safe Impact Report) Although we suspect that number to be higher due to the stigma of identifying as LGBTQ+. How might we, as a community, help LGBTQ+-identified youth who are experiencing homelessness? How might we prevent homelessness for LGBTQ+-identified youth? How might we build on existing service delivery models and systems of care to move this work forward? These are the questions we sought to answer. The answers informed our recommendations.