To help address the overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth among youth experiencing homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is leading the first-of-its-kind Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative (Initiative) to identify successful strategies to ensure that no young person is left without a home because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The Initiative began with two pilot communities that developed local, community-wide prevention plans, which they started implementing in Fall 2014. These plans include strategies to prevent LGBTQ youth from becoming homeless and intervene as early as possible if they do become homeless. The Initiative goals are to (1) Facilitate better local collaboration between stakeholders working with youth and families including local child welfare, education, and law enforcement agencies; runaway and homeless youth providers; LGBTQ organizations; and other local stakeholder; and (2) Help federal agencies and local communities learn more about implementing community-wide strategies for preventing homelessness for LGBTQ youth at risk of becoming homeless, and intervening early when it occurs.
The two communities participating in this Initiative are Harris County (Houston), Texas and Hamilton County (Cincinnati), Ohio. Houston is implementing NEST, led by the Montrose Center and coordinated with the Coalition for the Homeless Houston/Harris County, in collaboration with more than 60 Houston/ Harris County youth agencies and service providers. Cincinnati is implementing Safe and Supported, led by Lighthouse Youth Services and Strategies to End Homelessness. The Safe and Supported vision is every LGBTQ young person has stable housing, health care, education, employment, and emotional connections that ensure they thrive.