Cincinnati, Hamilton County Start National LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Initiative

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Among homeless kids and teens, LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning) youth have an especially hard time. 

Lighthouse Youth Services is among a handful of groups trying to identify and address issues that specifically affect homeless LGBTQ youth.

Planning and Policy Director Meredith Hicks said that population is over-represented among all homeless kids and young adults. Along with Houston, Texas, the Cincinnati region is testing a national pilot program.

“We’re going to rely on our entire community to help implement this,” said Hicks. “And really think through in our own organizations and our own agencies, what can we do to better support LGBTQ youth and prevent them from becoming homeless and also, how does that impact all young people? So supporting services for these youth impacts our support for young people across the board.”

Hicks said the plan is to wrap up the discussion phase by September 30 and begin implementation right away. The National LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Initiative was developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and several other agencies.

Hicks said the LGBTQ population is overrepresented among homeless youth, and it’s hard to get a handle on any true numbers because some young people who ask for help won’t disclose such personal information, and other homeless LGBTQ youth are reluctant to seek services at all.