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For Good

Safe and Supported receives $35,000 matching gift to end LGBTQ homelessness by 2020



Safe and Supported recently received a $35,000 matching gift to help fuel its goal of ending lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & questioning (LGBTQ) youth homelessness in Hamilton County by 2020. The dollar-for-dollar match came from the Gerhardstein & Branch law firmJim Obergefell, the Yorksmith family and David Michener in honor of the plaintiffs and attorneys who fought for marriage equality.
 
Safe and Supported is looking to continue its fundraising efforts to match the $35,000 gift and hosted a fundraiser Dec. 10 in an effort to engage the community.
 
Safe and Supported is led in partnership by Lighthouse Youth Services and Strategies to End Homelessness and is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative. Safe and Supported also partnered with the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Last year, Cincinnati and Houston were invited to pilot the community collaborative approach to end LGBTQ homelessness in their cities.
 
LGTBQ youth are a large subpopulation of those at risk for homelessness. More than 100 youths are on the streets of Cincinnati every night, some of whom might not even identify after trauma they’ve been through, says Melissa Meyer, director of Safe and Supported.
 
Safe and Supported underwent a six-month planning process in which it developed a comprehensive community plan built to help meet the needs of LGBTQ youths at risk for homelessness. The plan focused on improving outcomes in four core areas: stable housing, education and employment, social and emotional well-being and permanent connections.
 
“This is as much about prevention as it is intervention,” Meyer says. “We want them to have a safe place to land.”
 
Safe and Supported proposed the idea of host homes as an alternative to an emergency shelter where youths will have the opportunity to live with a family where they can feel welcome and stay until they find sustainable independence. There is also a family acceptance project, in which social workers are trained to help identify youth who are at risk of being homeless. They can step in and provide intervention services to help build family acceptance of the child’s identity rather than the child feeling they need to run away.

The initiative has widespread support from Mayor John Cranley’s office, the Ohio Attorney General and Cincinnati Public Schools.
 
As Cincinnati approaches the one-year anniversary of the death of Leelah Alcorn, Meyer suggests the transgender girl who committed suicide might have been able to find help had the initiative been started a couple of years ago.
 
“How would things have been different if she knew she could make it to 18 and then live in a host home, where she would feel safe, supported and valued?” Meyer asked. “How would that have shifted the trajectory in her life?”
 
Do Good:

• Donate to help support Safe and Supported’s mission to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Please specify that you are donating the money for Safe and Supported in the memo or notes field.

• For more information on Cincinnati’s community plan to end LGBTQ youth homelessness, visit the website.

• To learn more about the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, visit HUD’s website
 

Read more articles by Jayna Morris.

Jayna Morris is a contributing writer and editor for Soapbox. Learn more about her at www.jaynabarker.weebly.com.
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