About 35 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ, some live in tent encampments in Hollywood

The Los Angeles Blade shines a spotlight on the problem of LGBTQ homeless youth in a series of interviews with 30 young people living in tent encampments on the sidewalks near Santa Monica Boulevard.

HOLLYWOOD — The Los Angeles Blade shines a spotlight on the problem of LGBTQ homeless youth in a series of interviews with 30 young people living in tent encampments on the sidewalks near Santa Monica Boulevard. In Los Angeles County, almost 6,000 youth are homeless, according to the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, and about 35 percent of them are LGBTQ.

Overall, the number of people living on the streets of Los Angeles County in 2017 grew to 58,000 people, an increase of 23 percent from 2016, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Many LGBTQ youth are homeless and living on the streets because they have been rejected by their families, have fled family violence or are too old for the foster care system, according to a 2012 report from the True Colors Fund, The Palette Fund and the Williams Institute. These reasons also were mentioned by the youth interviewed by the Los Angeles Blade.

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Although some shelters offer housing and services to homeless LGBTQ youth, some youth who spoke with the Los Angeles Blade said living in a shelter can be stressful, and they find street life easier.

Homelessness has been on the minds of Los Angeles voters:

  • In November, Los Angeles residents approved a $1.2 billion bond measure that will fund 10,000 units of permanent housing with support services for the chronically homeless.
  • In March, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase that will help fund anti-homelessness initiatives and raise a projected $355 million a year.

Back on the streets, Kyle, 22, told the Los Angeles Blade that he arrived in Los Angeles from Tennessee four years ago. He’s been homeless the entire time.

“Some days are harder than others,” he said. “Here, at least there are people like me, and I don’t have to be alone.”

Kyle is hopeful he can turn his situation around, but for the moment, he lives on the sidewalk in a tent.

“I don’t want to do this the rest of my life,” he said.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBT community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBT students.