ORLANDO | The One Orlando Alliance is hosting a Central Florida-based discussion on the topic of LGBTQ youth homelessness at the Holden Heights Community Center in Orlando on April 11.
The discussion panel will consist of representatives from Alliance member organizations Bliss Cares, Equality Florida and Zebra Coalition; and will be moderated by Homeless Services Network of Central Florida Deputy Director Brian Postlewait.
“Homelessness is a national epidemic and local crisis. Orlando’s LGBTQ+ population is not exempt from poverty or homelessness and face unique challenges in accessing general population services,” Jennifer Foster, executive director of the One Orlando Alliance, said in a statement. “Orlando is taking the lead on creating sustainable solutions that include affordable housing, emergency services and divergence programs. We must also ensure those solutions are inclusive of our most vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ+ individuals.”
In a report released earlier this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Orlando was ranked worst in the nation in affordable housing for those with low incomes. As of January 2018, the United Interstates Agency Council on Homelessness reported almost 1,900 homeless unaccompanied youth in the state of Florida.
In addition, there are multiple studies that show LGBTQ youth homelessness is a large problem. According to an extensive 2017 study from Voices of Youth Count, LGBTQ youth have 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness than their straight peers. In a different study conducted by the True Colors Fund, it was found that 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ.
“We address this reality on a daily basis at Zebra, as well as the underlying causes like family rejection, access to health care and mental care, employment and education,” said Heather Wilke, executive director of Zebra Coalition. “Together, with the Alliance, we can now elevate these issues community-wide and develop holistic solutions to complicated issues.”
“LGBTQ+ Homelessness, A Community Discussion” is on April 11 from 5:30-7:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register go to OrlandoLGBTHomlessness.Eventbrite.com.