Sacramento is having a bit of a moment. In the last year, the exodus of transplants that have been priced out of the Bay Area has ignited a slew of new businesses, events, and amenities. We were even featured in an Oscar-winning film (Hey, Ladybird!) But with this change and prosperity come some significant challenges — the starkest of which is the number of people experiencing homelessness and with few resources to change their circumstances.
At the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, many think that we are just the group that hosts the annual Sacramento Pride and marches on the Capitol when legislation threatens our equality. While that is true, the Center actually spends a lot of time and resources aiding our population experiencing homelessness (both LGBTQ and allies, alike.)
The Current Situation
On an average day, more than 25 community members walk through the Center’s doors looking for LGBTQ-friendly housing resources, basic survival supplies, support groups, HIV/HCV testing, and mental health respite. The Center also fields dozens of inquiries on LGBTQ community events and requests for cultural humility trainings.
In fact, the Center has provided more than 2,500 such services since January, the greatest of which is helping hundreds of people with unstable housing find comfort, care, and resources. Whether these community members who experience homelessness needed new blankets or a warm shower, our organization has sought out ways to help in any way we can.
While the the majority of our client population (currently experiencing homelessness) are over the age of 25, we are seeing a growing wave of young adults seeking our help. Over the last 12 months, the percentage of youth clients (under 24) experiencing homelessness grew from 10 to 36 percent. Of the 36 percent of the Center’s youth clients experiencing homelessness in 2018, two-thirds self identified as LGBTQ.
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center is extremely familiar with just how many of our young LGBTQ family find themselves without a stable home despite the narrative that society is more “accepting” than ever. Since the need has only been increasing, we knew that we had to act fast and find some solutions to this growing issue.
The Center launched its first-ever emergency housing and Transitional Living Program this year to serve LGBTQ homeless youth aged 18-24 who have been victims of crime. The program provides housing and basic living needs like food, shelter, and clothing, but is also designed to help youth create self-reliance by providing stable housing, medical and mental health resources, and life-skills development. Our program also partners with the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op for healthy eating and food preparation classes, Golden 1 Credit Union for financial literacy, and WEAVE for counseling and crisis intervention.
Additionally, the Center is an active participant on the Homeless Youth Task Force which is designed to locate and connect with youth experiencing homelessness in order to gain a more robust view of the causes and possible solutions to youth homelessness. The Task Force also serves to give a unified voice to youth in Sacramento County’s Continuum of Care surrounding the issue.
What We Need
As the number of youth in need of services grows, we hope you can help us not only provide safety and security, but opportunities to develop life skills that will empower some of the most vulnerable LGBTQ youth in our community to thrive. If you are passionate about ensuring a brighter future for LGBTQ youth in our community, become a monthly supporter here.
There are many ways you can help the Center impact the lives of community members and expand services. Whether you can donate time, money, resources, or help spread the word to neighbors, co-workers and family, your help is needed. As a caring member of our community, will you get involved to help ensure safe and affirming home for all LGBTQ youth?