February 2018: Recently, the Sacramento City Council took a historic vote to make its first programmatic investment in the LGBTQ community by partnering with the Sacramento LGBT Community Center to leverage a grant we received from California Office of Emergency Services to launch new Specialized Emergency Housing Program that will serve LGBTQ youth victims of crime.
While it is a small start to address the hugely disproportionate number or LGBTQ youth who become homeless due to family rejection and are repeatedly victimized living on the street, it will mean a significant expansion of our Youth Programs. We will now be able to offer short-term emergency shelter options, a transitional living program, case management, counseling, and wrap around victim services for LGBTQ youth. Thank you to Councilmember Steve Hansen, Mayor Steinberg, and the entire City Council for your confidence and leadership.
The LGBTQ community has a long standing tradition of helping the next generation of LGBTQ folks to better improve their political, economic, and social standing. Marsha P. Johnson fought back against police brutality, Harvey Milk changed the political climate, and Michael Sam opened doors for LGBTQ people in sports.
The Center serves youth experiencing homelessness seven days a week at its drop-in center, The Q-Spot. At the Q-Spot, Center volunteers and staff provide youth with the basic necessities to survive on the streets. Youth not only come and pick up food, clothing, and hygiene supplies, but also use a washer and dryer and access a shower. They rest and socialize in an affirming environment with peers, games, movies, and adults who connect them with community resources.
Kevin, a 19-year-old LGBTQ youth, took an opportunity to tell his story to an affirming local church that hosted a panel of LGBTQ youth. Kevin shared that, “living in a group home I would hear the other boys call each other faggot all of the time and it made me not want to be myself.” Now Kevin is experiencing homelessness and visits the Center daily, where he feels empowered to be himself, and share his important story.
We can’t tell you how excited we are to be offering transitional living and emergency housing solutions for our youth in need, and we are thrilled to report a similar movement at the statewide level. This year, CA State Senator Scott Weiner presented the Homeless Youth Act (SB 918). The bill seeks to fight the growing epidemic of youth homelessness, not only in our state’s capital, but throughout California. With 15k youth are living on our streets, SB 918 increases state support for youth-specific housing and programs. Especially in the Sacramento region and for the disproportionate number of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ, this legislation is a historic win for many we serve.
This program is funded by Division of Behavioral Health Services through the voter approved Prop 63, Mental Health Services ACT (MHSA).