St. Nicholas Episcopal Church has assisted homeless individuals for over 25 years, primarily through support provided by St. Laurence Chapel, located in Pompano Beach.
For most of St. Laurence’s 31-year history, it was a day shelter for the homeless. St. Nicholas provided food, clothing, and volunteers. Then, when St. Laurence transitioned to an emergency overnight model, the Holy Grill of St. Nicholas mobile feeding ministry also began serving dinners at St. Laurence Monday through Friday. Unfortunately, Broward County has terminated its contract with St. Laurence. Facing an uncertain future, St. Laurence must vacate the Blount Road site by noon, March 31.
When I had the opportunity to speak with St. Laurence’s Board of Directors, I suggested they step back from this moment of grief and seize the opportunity to prayerfully consider how they might refine their mission to the homeless to perhaps be even more effective going forward. In this regard, I suggested the Board consider addressing homelessness among the young and especially among LGBTQ youth.
The statistics I've seen suggest that LGBTQ youth are highly over-represented among the homeless youth population, approaching 40%. Moreover, whereas 33% of homeless youth are subjected to sexual victimization, according to one study, with 26% being solicited for sex in exchange for money, food, drugs, shelter, or clothing, 58% of the LGBTQ homeless population are sexually victimized and 44% solicited to exchange sex in order to meet basic human needs. Even more troubling, research suggests 62% of homeless LGBTQ youth attempt suicide as compared to 29% for heterosexual homeless youth.