The issue of homelessness is a serious epidemic for LGBT youth in Philadelphia and around the country. And while there are already a few programs in place in our own backyard, starting this week, Foyer of Philadelphia will be providing a new safe haven for LGBT kids who are at risk living on the street this winter.
There’s an estimated 3,275 homeless youth in Philadelphia right now – and almost 1,300 homeless LGBT youth at risk.
Starting Wednesday, Dec. 14, the Night Resource Program will provide 10 beds for people between the ages of 18 and 24 starting at 7 p.m. at the Arch Street Presbyterian Church (1724 Arch St.). Young people will have the option to stay for a night – or a month or more, depending on space. Meals will also be served daily with counseling provided on-site.
And while the solution is temporary, it’s one way for LGBT young people to find help, food, shelter and some much-needed advice from therapists in an environment free from discrimination. Many homeless LGBT youth avoid traditional shelters because of violence, harassment and the stigma of belonging to a sexual minority. If they are abandoned by their families or age out of foster care, this means they could end up homeless.
It’s estimated that the number of homeless and runaway youth totals up to 1.6 million each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The National Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Task Force says that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless young people identity as L,G, B or T.
Foyer, which had previously helped create Q-Spot at the Broad Street Ministry on Saturday nights – a special event that provided resources and free STD testing – will not only provide temporary housing, but guests will also have the opportunity to obtain their GED or vocational training, gain work experience through employment opportunities, and will be offered support and step-down services to help transition into a life off of the streets.
Foyer has already offered career development classes at The Attic Youth Center, helping participants to place at local organizations like Mazzoni Center, ActionAIDS and CHOICE, as well as local businesses like Philly Car Share, Society Hill Veterinary Hospital and The Rotunda.
The Foyer is currently looking for volunteers who can provide food to the program. They’re asking volunteers to sign up online by clicking here.
Volunteers and donors may also contact Foyer via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a video about the homeless epidemic. And while it was created in Chicago, it speaks to the struggles homeless LGBT youth have in big cities like Philadelphia around the country: