Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth face more than double the risk of experiencing homelessness compared to their nonqueer-identifying peers, often facing rejection and discrimination from family members and others. In the last decade, many organizations have formed to help these young adults and children, providing support and resources so they can have somewhere safe and stable to live.
In this article, we look at how allies of LGBTQ+ youth communities can make positive changes. We’ll also discuss initiatives offering assistance to LGBTQ+ youth who may become unhoused or other issues related to finding secure housing options. Together, we can work towards creating an inclusive environment where all people experience safe home lives.
Statistics Surrounding LGBTQ+ Youth and Homelessness
The numbers don’t lie—the issue of housing insecurity faced by LGBTQ+ youth is concerningly high. Here are some critical statistics pulled from The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health:
- LGBTQ+ youth face stark challenges with housing instability, with 28% reporting facing the potential of being unhoused at some point.
- Native/Indigenous and multiracial LGBTQ+ youth face increased concerns, with 44% and 36% being unhoused or experiencing housing instability at some point, respectively.
- Transgender and nonbinary people also report higher rates of being unhoused and housing instability, including 38% of transgender women, 39% of transgender men, and 35% of nonbinary youth compared to 23% of cisgender LGBTQ+ youth.
- Nearly one third (27%) of LGBTQ+ youth report feeling worried that food will run out before their family has money to buy more.
- Further compounding the problem are the home environments of many LGBTQ+ people. Sixteen percent of LGBTQ+ youth said they ran away from home, with more than half (55%) citing mistreatment or fear of mistreatment due to their identity.
- Those who have struggled with being unhoused or housing insecurity faced higher rates of mental health issues compared to their stably housed peers, with 58% to 62% reporting they had seriously considered suicide within the past year (compared to 35% of youth who had stable housing).
Many LGBTQ+ youth experience being unhoused and housing insecurity, highlighting the need for tailored solutions. We must ensure these young people get access to specialized resources so they can lead safe and secure lives.
Reasons That LGBTQ+ Youth Face Housing Insecurity
As outlined above, LGBTQ+ youth experience disproportionately high rates of housing insecurity and becoming unhoused. There are numerous reasons for this, but five key factors stand out: family rejection; discrimination; physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; mental health challenges; and economic instability.
LGBTQ+ youth often experience housing insecurity due to family rejection. Unfortunate circumstances such as conflict, estrangement, or even eviction may arise when their identity is not accepted by the ones closest to them. One survey revealed that 55% of LGBTQ+ youth were unhoused because they were kicked out of their home, and 17% cited general family issues.
LGBTQ+ youth face many challenges in obtaining safe and stable housing. Discrimination makes it difficult for them to secure such housing. As mentioned above, the Trevor Project found that more than half of the LGBTQ+ youth who ran away from home did so due to mistreatment or fear of mistreatment for their LGBTQ+ identity.
Physical, Emotional, or Sexual Abuse
Sexual or physical abuse is another key reason why LGBTQ+ youth face homelessness. Research shows that unhoused LGBTQ+ youth are sexually assaulted at a rate three times that of unhoused youth who don’t identify as LGBTQ+. This treatment often leads them to run away from home or foster care.
Mental Health Challenges
Family rejection, discrimination, and abuse can lead to mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Becoming unhoused as a result of these traumas can also seriously damage a person’s mental health.
Economic opportunity is a universal challenge, but LGBTQ+ youth face additional roadblocks. LGBTQ+ individuals—especially those of color—tend to face more obstacles in securing work, which increases their likelihood of experiencing poverty and, consequently, becoming unhoused.
Housing Assistance Options for LGBTQ+ Youth
LGBTQ+ youth can face numerous difficulties in finding safe and secure housing. Fortunately, many local and national organizations offer support.
National Runaway Safeline
The National Runaway Safeline is dedicated to empowering LGBTQ+ youth across the United States who are experiencing housing instability and homelessness. The organization strives to ensure everyone has a safe place to be heard by providing a 24/7 crisis hotline, emotional support, and referrals to resources.
Point Source Youth
Point Source Youth strives to end youth from experiencing homelessness, with a particular emphasis on helping LGBTQ+ individuals. Headquartered in New York City, its mission is to ensure vulnerable youths have safe places to stay and access to the resources they need. The organization provides services such as host homes and direct cash transfers as well as virtual training, technical assistance with program funding, and advocacy and community support.
Safe Place is a national youth outreach and prevention program offering refuge to young people in need. It has locations across the country that serve as sanctuary sites and gives teens access to vital resources whether they identify as LGBTQ+ or not.
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is an invaluable resource for LGBTQ+ youth, not only providing suicide prevention and crisis intervention services but also helping those seeking housing assistance across the country.
True Colors United
True Colors United is dedicated to preventing youth from becoming unhoused and providing support for LGBTQ+ individuals. Established in New York, it advocates for policy changes at both local and national levels and offers free trainings and resources to unhoused youth service providers to ensure inclusive spaces.
Ali Forney Center (New York City)
The Ali Forney Center provides a welcoming shelter and resources to unhoused LGBTQ+ youth in New York City. The center strives to empower its community with essential support systems necessary to bring positive change.
Larkin Street Youth Services (San Francisco)
Larkin Street Youth Services has been transforming the lives of unhoused and at-risk youth in San Francisco for more than 30 years. Providing housing, education, employment and health services, this organization gives young people the support they need to overcome adversity and build better futures.
Los Angeles LGBT Center (Los Angeles)
The Los Angeles LGBT Center is dedicated to providing LGBTQ+ youth with secure housing options. It offers emergency shelter, transitional living programs, and supportive housing in an atmosphere that celebrates identity while enabling growth and independence.
Lost-n-Found Youth (Atlanta)
Lost-n-Found Youth in Atlanta strives to help unhoused LGBTQ+ youth get the necessary services and housing. The organization provides counseling and other vital support so that every young person can live safely and independently.
Montrose Grace Place (Houston)
Montrose Grace Place offers emergency shelter and meals to Houston’s unhoused LGBTQ+ youth. The organization also promotes well-being by connecting LGBTQ+ youth to mentors and programs that aid in access to permanent housing, stable employment, mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, and more.
Ruth Ellis Center (Detroit)
The Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit provides a haven for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming unhoused. Through its residential and support services, this organization helps give young people the resources they need to find stability and build meaningful lives.
SMYAL (Washington, D.C.)
SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) is dedicated to creating a brighter future for LGBTQ+ youth in the Washington, D.C., area. The organization provides housing programs, leadership development opportunities, and support services to give young people hope for their futures.
The Attic Youth Center (Philadelphia)
The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia is dedicated to giving LGBTQ+ youth the help they need. The center offers housing aid, educational guidance, and mental health counseling.
The Night Ministry (Chicago)
The Night Ministry is a Chicago-based organization dedicated to helping unhoused youth, particularly members of LGBTQ+ communities. Its youth housing programs provide outreach and shelter while offering support services.
Time Out Youth Center (Charlotte)
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Time Out Youth Center is a dedicated place of support for LGBTQ+ youth. The center provides tailored services aimed at helping those struggling with their identity or who find themselves without shelter, providing emergency housing, transitional living programs, and more.
Ways That LGBTQ+ Allies Can Help
Being an LGBTQ+ ally can have a huge impact on young people in need. There are many ways allies can foster an accepting environment for these youths, whether through direct action or by providing support. Below are five steps you can take to help.
Educate Yourself and Others
LGBTQ+ allies can help create a more supportive environment for struggling youth by educating themselves on and sharing information about unique challenges like housing insecurity. The knowledge you share with those in your circle could make all the difference to young, marginalized group members.
Support LGBTQ+ Organizations
You can donate your time, money, or other resources to organizations that provide housing and other services to LGBTQ+ youth in need.
Advocate for Inclusive Policies
LGBTQ+ youth deserve to feel safe and secure in their homes. We can all help create safe spaces by advocating for inclusive housing policies at the local, state, and federal levels to promote equal access to resources while protecting against discrimination.
Create Safe Spaces
Allies have the power to cultivate a culture of acceptance and respect for LGBTQ+ youth. This might include intervening when homophobic or transphobic language is used and supporting individuals who face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Push to prioritize inclusion in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
Offer Personal Support
Allies can be a crucial source of support for LGBTQ+ youth in their personal lives. Trusted friends, family members, and other supporters can help connect young people to resources and provide them with mentorship, ultimately creating an atmosphere where LGBTQ+ youth feel seen, heard, and valued during life’s challenging moments.
Ensuring the safety and stability of LGBTQ+ youth is paramount. Many organizations provide housing assistance to this population, but we can all do our part in helping to create a more inclusive society where everyone can find secure housing and reach their full potential without fear of discrimination. Educating yourself and others about equitable policies, participating in volunteer work, and donating financially to these causes can all help to break down barriers LGBTQ+ people face.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, text or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 for support.