There are about 1.6 million homeless youth in the U.S., and they disproportionately identify as LGBT
LGBT homelessness is rooted in the lack of acceptance of these youth, both in and outside their homes.
Understanding that these statistics are unfathomable and can be improved through compassionate intervention, the Our Fund Foundation funds the Homeless LGBTQ Youth Initiative and has improved the situation facing LGBT homeless youth in South Florida through a partnership with local agency SunServe.
The Homeless LGBTQ Youth Initiative funds a case manager who keeps LGBT youth safe through early intervention and prevention services. The Initiative also provides the case manager with a Flex Fund so that immediate purchases - such as bus fare, tuition, clothing and food - can be made to keep youth off of the streets.
“For a homeless youth, the first thing we'd do is enroll them in our Life Coaching program, and do an immediate needs assessment,” said Tori Bertran, Director of Youth Services at SunServe. “Do they need emergency shelter? Do they need help qualifying or applying for a housing program? We work closely and have strong relationships with HOMES, Henderson Housing, Lutheran Services Florida. Once stably housed, our life coaches will begin extensive sessions, helping young people learn life skills like doing the laundry, planning a budget, cooking, cleaning their apartment, taking care of their health needs etc. They will eventually work on getting the youth in school or training for a career. Most of our homeless or at-risk-of-homelessness clients stay in services over a year. At any given time, we have about a dozen young people in some stage of homelessness in our program - either homeless, at risk of homelessness, or transitioning out.”
The annual cost associated with supporting the Homeless LGBTQ Youth Initiative is $42,000. Our Fund needs gifts to replenish its fund and asks for the community’s help.
"Without Our Fund's support, we would not have the resources - both in personnel and emergency funds - to help these kids. It's important to remember that anyone of us could have been in this situation at that early age," said SunServe's Executive Director Mark Ketcham.