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Sacramento’s first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth opens

Homeless LGBTQ Youth

Pictured is the entrance to the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, which has the region’s first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth. Photo: Sacramento LGBT Community Center.

Sacramento has its first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth.

The facility, which opened earlier this month, is located at and run by the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. It has 12 beds as part of the Center’s Short-Term Transitional Emergency Program for youth between 18 and 24 years old.

Homeless shelter LGBTQ youth

Approximately 38 percent of the region’s homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, according to a survey from the Sacramento County’s Homeless Youth Task Force, Youth Advisory Board, and Center.

“LGBTQ+ focused housing for youth is beyond needed,” said Pixie Pearl, the Center’s assistant director of housing. “So many times youth experiencing homelessness have discrimination or rejection on their identities repeated in services, which is the very thing they may be trying to escape.”

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Housing approach for LGBTQ youth 

The Center’s 12 emergency beds are not the solution, but a step and part of a larger, comprehensive approach of addressing homeless and the lack of affordable housing in the region, Pearl said.

For example, the Center’s other approaches to housing include interim motel stays, host homes, and a transitional living program, Pearl said.

A waiting list already is available for the 12 emergency beds, but people can fill out a housing inquiry form at Sacramento LGBT Community Center.

LGBTQ youth on the streets

Sacramento’s LGBTQ youth homeless figures are similar to a report that determined between 30 and 43 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

According to that 2012 study by the True Colors Fund, Palette Fund, and Williams Institute at UCLA, here are the three main reasons queer youth end up on the streets:

  • 46 percent were living on the streets because family kicked them out of their house
  • 32 percent left due to abuse — physical, emotional or sexual — at home
  • 17 percent aged out of the foster system.

Lack of housing in Long Beach, WeHo

Long Beach and West Hollywood have huge LGBTQ populations, but both cities have struggled to address affordable housing. Also, neither Long Beach nor West Hollywood have any shelters for LGBTQ homeless youth.

In Hollywood, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus offers 100 beds for homeless youth.

At the Sacramento shelter, LGBTQ youth can stay an average 90 days. During that time, they receive case management, vital social services, and navigate to long-term options, including permanent housing.

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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ students.

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