Today the Sacramento LGBT Community Center announced a major expansion of its housing options designed to serve LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. Later this spring and summer, the Center’s housing options will expand to offer a 12-bed Short term Transitional Emergency Program (STEP) shelter and pilot a Host Home Program for 10 youth. Building on the success of the Center’s current 6-bed Transitional Living Program (TLP) opened in 2018, this expansion will increase capacity to 28 beds that support 18-24-year-old LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness who have been victims of crime.
These initiatives directly respond to a growing need for services by the 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness who identify as LGBTQ+ through an inclusive and multi-faceted continuum of care at the Center. In 2018 alone, the number of youth who came to the Center’s QSpot youth drop-in center in need of housing increased by more than 30 percent. “The Sacramento region is experiencing a severe housing and homelessness crisis and the most vulnerable in the community are queer and transgender youth, especially youth of color. They have no one and nowhere to turn for help after their family and society have rejected them, they’ve aged out of foster care, or they’ve worn out their welcome couch surfing with friends and sleeping in cars,” said Executive Director David Heitstuman.
The Sacramento 100-Day Challenge Team recently cited that 700 transitional aged youth’s names were on Sacramento Steps Forward’s By-Name List, causing housing provider wait lists to extent many months. These young people often experience rates of sexual and physical assault, childhood abuse, hate crimes, human trafficking, and domestic violence at alarming rates. In a recent 10-city study, sixty-eight percent of the youth who had either been trafficked or engaged in survival sex or commercial sex had done so while homeless and LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to be trafficked as non-LGBTQ youth.
The Center’s new STEP housing facility will be located in Midtown at 21st and P, where youth will have access to a 24-hour low barrier shelter with an average stay of 90-days. They will receive assistance obtaining identification documents, case management, medical and mental health services, and establish a level of safety and stability as they prepare for the next step in their transition to permanent housing.
The new Host Home Program will provide bridge housing in the home of a community host where housing, social/emotional support, and case management will be provided for transitional aged youth who may be in school, recently kicked out of their family home, or exiting an emergency shelter program at eminent risk of returning to homelessness. These programs will complement the Center’s existing TLP, which supports youth to stay up to 24-months while establishing self-sufficiency through stable housing, intensive case management, counseling, transportation, employment services, life skills workshops, and establishment of a support system that they can maintain after exiting the program.
“The affordable housing crisis is impacting everyone, especially our LGBTQ+ youth, whom four years ago had no housing programs specifically for them. It shouldn’t be the case that the vulnerability of the beginning of adulthood is navigated outside, unsheltered, without support and resources. This expansion at the Center is an intentional effort to integrate housing programs as a part of a collaborative community-wide effort to increase opportunities for youth experiencing homelessness through increased shelter capacity and filling in gaps in the continuum of care,” said Pixie Pearl, Assistant Director for Housing at the LGBT Center whom formerly experienced homelessness themselves.
The new STEP and existing TLP are made possible with grants from the California Office Emergency Services (CalOES), funded by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and matching funds from the City of Sacramento and private LGBT Center donors. The Host Home pilot program is funded through the City of Sacramento’s Homelessness Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) allocation and the support of private Center donors. City of Sacramento funding is expected to be approved by the City Council on April 23, 2019 with the support of Councilmember Hansen and Mayor Steinberg, who have been leaders in the fight to end youth homelessness in Sacramento. The new programs will launch later this spring and summer and all of the Center’s housing programs can be accessed through the Q-Spot drop-in center open 7-days a week at the Center located at 1917 L Street in Lavender Heights.
Approval of the City’s funding contribution to these programs is scheduled for the April 23 agenda at 5 p.m. If you are available to voice support, your presence at the meeting would be appreciated.
Anyone interested in partnership or support for youth experiencing homelessness through these new initiatives can contact the Center at (916) 442-0185 or go online at saccenter.org.
Please direct any media inquiries to Krystal.Peak@saccenter.org
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center works to create a region where LGBTQ people thrive. We support the health and wellness of the most marginalized, advocate for equality and justice, and work to build a culturally rich LGBTQ community.