Coalition plans to reduce LGBT youth homelessness

CINCINNATI (AP) – A plan for reducing homelessness among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth will be submitted for federal approval this week by a coalition of Cincinnati groups.

Cincinnati was one of two cities the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development invited to develop such plans, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The southwestern Ohio city was chosen partly because of its ability to track homeless youth and because it has a record of building collaboration around the homelessness issue, according to the Enquirer.

The Cincinnati plan to be submitted and released Sept. 30 calls for raising community awareness about the needs of LGBT youth The newspaper reports that the plan calls for raising community awareness about their needs, improving data collection on sexual orientation, better screening to see which youth are likely to become homeless and increased support for stable housing, education, employment and well-being of LGBT youth.

The group of 15 local organizations submitting the plan includes Hamilton County Job and Family Services, the Cincinnati Police Department and the Lighthouse Youth Advisory Council. If approved, the plan would be implemented beginning in October.

The federal department was closed for the weekend, and officials didn’t immediately respond to a message left seeking comment.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth make up 5 percent to 7 percent of all youth nationally, but as much as 20 percent to 40 percent of the country’s 600,000-plus homeless youth, according to the newspaper. Some studies show that half of those who reveal their homosexuality get a negative response from their families, and more than a fourth of them are kicked out of their homes.

“We’ve worked with tens of thousands of youth over 40-plus years, and there has always been an over-representation of GLT youth,” said Bob Mecum, president and CEO of Lighthouse Youth Services.

Tevin Brunner says Cincinnati was the right choice to propose a plan and deserves to be a national model.

“I thought I was going to be homeless forever until I moved here,” said Brunner, who is gay and had no home to go to after aging out of foster care. “Then I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Brunner, now 21, said he slept in paper recycling bins, under bridges and in the stairwells of buildings. He said he moved from Dayton to Kentucky and then to West Virginia, before coming to Cincinnati to stay with a cousin in March. But when that didn’t work, he spent 78 days at a center where he received therapy and help obtaining a job.

“Now I have my own apartment, I pay my own rent, I pay my own bills,” he said. “My message for kids who are going through struggles with their identity is, as long as you love you for you and have faith, anything is possible.”

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