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Housing and Homelessness

Are You 27 Or Older? Like Roommates? You Could Help Keep A Young Person Off The Streets

The LA LGBT Center's facade in Hollywood bears the rainbow colors.
The LA LGBT Center McDonald/Wright building in Hollywood.
(Ethan Ward
/
LAist)
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The Los Angeles LGBT Center is looking for local residents to sign up for a program that places young people experiencing homelessness in private homes for up to six months. Host Homes is meant to help the roughly 4,000 unhoused LGBTQ+ youth in L.A. who are living on the streets.

L.A. County’s young unhoused population is more likely to be Black, Latino and/or LGBTQ+, and also suffer from not having a job, support system or positive adult relationships, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Data from LAHSA show nearly 36% of people experiencing homelessness identify themselves as LGBTQ+, while the center's information shows 40%.

In addition to temporary housing, Host Homes participants also benefit from wraparound services that include counseling.

“All of the young people have made steps in their educational or employment goals,” said Kevin McCloskey, director of community-based programs for the center’s Youth Services, in a statement. “Once you remove housing instability from being one of the challenges the young people face, they are able to focus on other goals and work toward becoming more self-sufficient.”

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The program has helped 80% of youth participants obtain apartments through supportive housing, reconnecting them with family or successfully transition to living independently, but there is still a waitlist of young people looking for a place to live, according to the center.

Once you remove housing instability from being one of the challenges the young people face, they are able to focus on other goals.
— Kevin McCloskey, director of Community-based Programs at the LA LGBT Center

Many young LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness end up living on the streets or in shelters and often their families push them there. Finding support can be difficult, especially since the experiences of lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender individuals and queer people are different and each group has specific needs. Transgender individuals often face discrimination at shelters and don’t feel safe. There are currently no shelters for people who identify as non-binary.

Courtney Young, a Host Homes coordinator, said there is a pent-up demand partially due to the pandemic, with hosts being less likely to open up their homes while variants were surging. They added that the L.A. housing market is also to blame.

“We’re just trying to seek some folks in the community who have some extra space,” Young said. “We try to have hosts think of it as a roommate situation.”

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Young said hosts get a monthly stipend to help with additional expenses, such as utility bills, and participants get grocery stipends. Hosts also receive full support from the Host Homes staff.

“We are not asking hosts to be case managers, parents or best friends to the youth,” McCloskey said. “The best hosts understand what they’re doing: providing a safe space and a community for this young adult. With your help, you are helping the Center’s mission to help LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society.”

Young said hosts come from various backgrounds and they get single adults as well as couples who participate. The center prefers hosts at least 27 years of age.

“If they’re on the fence, I would definitely recommend coming to the training and having a conversation with us to answer any questions,” said Young.

You can learn more about the Host Home program here.

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What questions do you have about homelessness?
Ethan Ward for a time lived in his car while attending community college. That experience informs his reporting on one of the most pressing issues in Southern California.