There are several effective ways to help LGBTQia youth who are experiencing homelessness.

Family Reconciliation


Host Homes

Adult shelters are almost always inappropriate for youth.  Youth fare best in shelters specifically for their needs, feel safer, and receive the most appropriate services and care.  There are FAR too few shelter beds for youth.  Even if youth knew where to find a shelter, felt safe enough to approach and walk through the doors - the need would far outweigh what actually exists.  Read about one initiative:  "Over 500,000 young people experience homelessness every year throughout our nation. Despite that staggering figure, there are only 4,000 youth shelter beds across the country. This forces the majority of homeless youth to struggle for survival on the streets. The National Campaign for Youth Shelter is a collaborative effort between the Ali Forney Center and the National Coalition for the Homeless to build a grassroots movement demanding a national commitment to house all the homeless youth in the country."

Rapid Rehousing
Rapid rehousing has proven to be effective for adults in many areas, and recently has become a strategy for addressing youth homelessness as well.  Rapid rehousing is most appropriate for youth who have little chance of family reconciliation, have independent living skills, and are ready to transition to a more stable, integrated living situation without their street family.  Learn more about rapid rehousing for youth from Point Source.

Street Outreach
There is a sizable population of youth that live "off grid" - they will often organize into street families and live together in a camp outdoors, in an abandoned building or "squat" or live together in some other type of shelter, such as an abandoned shed, railroad car, under an overpass, in a large storm drain, cave, and so on.  Quite often these street families stay out of sight for their safety, and may send a youth or pair of your to get needed supplies, such as food from a pantry, or a drop-in center for other supplies.  In some areas street outreach workers look for youth who may be homeless, and offer them food and supplies and connections to resources.  Other street outreach programs consist of a service tree, where youth communicate their needs for supplies and there is a common drop off place to help ensure that youth camps remain hidden.  Police, predators, traffickers and other adults are often feared by youth experiencing homelessness because of previous trauma and what they have heard from other youth.  There is safety in being hidden.

Drop-in Services
In some communities specific drop-in services exist for homeless youth specifically.  In other communities, there may be youth-serving groups or church programs that youth experiencing homelessness can access.  If you are part of a service organization, be aware that some of the youth may be unstably housed or homeless.  Make helpful information about community resources and services readily available.  If you are able to keep a small food pantry, that can be a huge help, as can having new socks on hand, water bottles, and can openers, as well as gloves and hand warmers in cold climates.  A large percentage of youth have children - diapers are appreciated. Some communities make connections with thrift stores so that a youth in need can be gifted a voucher so that they can choose the clothing and supplies they most need.

Programatic Supports
Existing programs at drop-in centers, clubs, groups, etc. can be easily tweaked to become more helpful for youth experiencing homelessness.  Being aware that not all youth have a traditional home is the first step, the rest is up to you to think about how your program and services could be more welcoming and helpful.  When youth trust you they may open up and tell you their housing status, but assume nothing and make helps and resources available without any emotional baggage attached.