LGBTQ Homelessness

Years of research and countless studies have repeatedly shown that discrimination threatens not only access to housing but the stability of communities. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community are more likely to become homeless, and once homeless, more likely to endure discrimination and harassment that extends their homelessness. LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness are at particular risk. Between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as members of the LGBTQ community, and for them, homelessness or the threat of homelessness frequently forces youth into survival behaviors that jeopardize their wellbeing and safety.

HUD and other Federal partners, including the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), support a national focus on preventing and ending homelessness among LGBTQ youth and ending all forms of discrimination against all members of the LGBTQ community in housing and shelter. As the Nation's housing agency, HUD administers programs designed to meet the goal of ensuring decent housing and a suitable living environment for all.

This section of the HUD Exchange establishes a central clearinghouse of resources for the LGBTQ community, including information on and links to HUD's Equal Access Rule and program guidance, a toolkit on supporting transgender-inclusive projects, information on HUD's initiative for the community-wide prevention of LGBTQ youth homelessness, and links to LGBTQ resources and research reports.

HUD grantees can submit requests for formal program guidance or share resources they've found effective by submitting a request to the HUD Exchange Ask A Question (AAQ) portal. Select the appropriate program – CoC: Continuum of Care, ESG: Emergency Solutions Grants, or HOPWA: Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS – and enter "Equal Access Rule" for the subject.

Equal Access and Gender Identity Rules Training

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Resources for Homeless LGBTQ Individuals in Crisis

Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration on Children and Families (ACF), and the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) as the training and technical assistance provider for all Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) grantees. RHYTTAC staff come from RHY services and understand the challenges programs face in striving to achieve the best possible outcomes in the midst of staff turnover, community change and ever-emerging needs of the RHY population.

National Runaway Safeline

The National Runaway Safeline (NRS) provides education and solution-focused interventions, offers non-sectarian, non-judgmental support, respects confidentiality, collaborates with volunteers, and responds to at-risk youth and their families. The organization serves as the federally designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth. Our services are provided through funding from FYSB in the ACF, HHS, and the generosity of private funders: individual donors, corporate partners, and foundation grants.

Safe Place

Safe Place is a national youth outreach and prevention program for young people in need of immediate help and safety. As a community-based program, Safe Place designates businesses and organizations as Safe Place locations, making help readily available to youth in communities across the country. Locations include: libraries, YMCA’s fire stations, public buses, various businesses, and social service facilities.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people ages 13-24.

Report a Violation or Discrimination

If you believe you have experienced (or are about to experience) housing discrimination, you should contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for help at (800) 669-9777. You may also file a housing discrimination complaint online.

Program Guidance and Equal Access Rule

Final Rule: Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs

On September 21, 2016, HUD published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled “Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs.” Through this final rule, HUD ensures equal access to individuals in accordance with their gender identity in programs and shelter funded under programs administered by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD). This rule builds upon HUD’s February 2012 final rule entitled “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” (2012 Equal Access Rule), which aimed to ensure that HUD’s housing programs would be open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. The final rule requires that recipients and subrecipients of CPD funding, as well as owners, operators, and managers of shelters, and other buildings and facilities and providers of services funded in whole or in part by any CPD program to grant equal access to such facilities, and other buildings and facilities, benefits, accommodations and services to individuals in accordance with the individual’s gender identity, and in a manner that affords equal access to the individual’s family.

Date Published: September 2016

Notice on Equal Access Regardless of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Marital Status for HUD's CPD Programs

HUD is providing a notice that projects can use to notify clients and residents of the new Equal Access rule requirements. The document helps providers ensure that individuals seeking placement or accommodation in a shelter or other building or facility and housing funded under a program administered by the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) are aware of HUD’s equal access policy, as established in HUD’s 2012 Equal Access Rule, and elaborated upon in the Equal Access in Accordance with Gender Identity Final Rule published in the Federal Register on September 21, 2016.

Date Published: September 2016

SNAPS In Focus: Equal Access for Transgender People

This message discusses the challenges transgender people face in accessing community services and HUD's commitment to ensuring that all persons experiencing homelessness have access to inclusive and nondiscriminatory housing.

Date Published: December 2015

Guide to Support Equal Access in Shelters and Projects

Equal Access for Transgender People: Supporting Inclusive Housing and Shelters

This guide focuses on project-level policies and procedures, requirements and recommendations specific to single-sex facilities, and resources for creating practical documents like signage, intake forms, and other written policies and procedures.

Date Published: April 2021

Agency Assessment Tool

Equal Access Agency Assessment Tool

This Equal Access Agency Assessment Tool provides specific action steps for HUD recipients and subrecipients to meet the requirements of the Equal Access Rule in shelters and other facility settings. This tool is for agencies’ internal use only. This tool is intended for administrative staff, however, front line staff may also benefit from reading the tool and assisting in the assessment process.

Date Published: November 2021

Training Scenarios for CoCs and Projects

Training Scenarios for Use with Project Staff

Individual projects can use these brief scenarios and discussion points as the foundation of staff training sessions to support transgender-inclusive projects. Each of the seven scenarios reviews different kinds of interactions, including those that occur between project residents, between staff members, and between staff members and supervisors. Topics include gender identity and ID document mismatches, harassment inside projects, and privacy concerns, among others.

Date Published: April 2021

Other Project Resources

Disclaimer: All peer approved resources shared on the HUD Exchange have been provided by the organization that developed them. The documents have not been reviewed by HUD or its contractors for applicability, legality, or compliance with federal statutory and regulatory guidelines. The posting of these documents on the HUD Exchange is not intended as an endorsement of the documents by HUD or any of its contractors.

There are several projects across the country that target services and resources to LGBT individuals. Links to their websites and materials can be found here.

Research Links

A growing body of academic and policy-based research is focused on understanding the intersections between LGBTQ status and experiences of homelessness, particularly for unaccompanied youth. This research is a great resource to increase knowledge about homelessness in the LGBTQ community and can aid practitioners as they work to design culturally appropriate interventions. Links to these reports can be found here.

National LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness Research Agenda

The purpose of this national research agenda on LGBTQ+ youth homelessness is to center the voices and experiences of those most impacted by LGBTQ youth homelessness and to provide a guide for researchers investigating solutions to address the disparities faced by LGBTQ youth, particularly LGBTQ youth of color.

Date Published: January 2020

True Colors United: At the Intersections: A Collaborative Resource on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness

This second edition of At the Intersections reveals what has changed in recent years regarding our understanding of LGBTQ youth homelessness, and how to use that information to make youth homelessness a rare, brief, and one-time experience.

Date Published: April 2019

3/40 Blueprint

3/40 Blueprint was initiated to identify challenges and goals, and help transitional living programs develop solutions better aligned with LGBTQ youths’ unique needs. Research results, executive summaries, and infographics have been provided here to help guide service provision for this vulnerable population. 3/40 Blueprint was a collaborative effort between Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. These entities partnered due to their longstanding commitments to social justice, including efforts to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth and runaway and homeless youth.

Voices of Youth Count: Missed Opportunities: LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in America

This brief is the second in a series of Research-to-Impact briefs by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago on understanding and addressing youth homelessness.

Date Published: May 2018

Community-Wide Prevention of LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: Lessons Learned During Planning Phase

This document summarizes the lessons learned and recommendations of the HUD's LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative ("initiative"). The initiative’s goal is to identify successful strategies for ensuring 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 of 2014.

Date Published: April 2016

LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative Community Plans

To help address the overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth among youth experiencing homelessness, HUD is leading the first-of-its-kind 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.

Date Published: April 2016

Review of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative Planning Phase

This document reports the planning phase-related findings and recommendations of HUD’s LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative (“initiative”).  The findings illustrate that, while challenging, community-wide planning to address LGBTQ youth homelessness is possible with buy-in, resources, and a collective willingness to invest time in a planning process. The recommendations are intended to inform replication of similar LGBTQ youth homelessness prevention planning in communities nationwide.

In the summer of 2014, HUD launched the initiative with two objectives: (1) facilitating better local collaboration between stakeholders working with youth and (2) informing national strategies for preventing homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Using various criteria, HUD and its partners selected two communities—Hamilton County (Cincinnati), Ohio; Harris County (Houston), Texas—to recruit for participation as pilot sites.

Date Published: April 2016

Discrimination Against Transgender Women Seeking Access to Homeless Shelters

The Center for American Progress and the Equal Rights Center, or ERC, recently conducted telephone tests on 100 homeless shelters across four states. The tests measured the degree to which transgender homeless women can access shelter in accordance with their gender identity, as well as the types of discrimination and mistreatment they face in the process. While accessing homeless shelters is difficult for anyone, transgender women face particular issues and barriers that have yet to be addressed.

Date Published: January 2016

Expanding ID Card Access for LGBT Homeless Youth

Research suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth are significantly overrepresented among young people experiencing homelessness. Like other homeless individuals, LGBT young people experience significant challenges while homeless—including limited access to food, shelter, health care, education, and employment. At the same time that they are figuring out how to express who they are to themselves and to others in person, many homeless LGBT youth struggle to prove their identities on paper. State-issued photo identification, or ID, cards are, for a variety of reasons, difficult to obtain for many LGBT and homeless youth. Federal regulations that govern certain state processes for issuing federally accepted ID cards make obtaining these cards more difficult for homeless individuals.

Date Published: October 2015

Beyond 4 Walls and a Roof: Addressing Homelessness Among Transgender Youth

This report compiles existing research in order to provide an overview of the demographics of transgender homeless youth, their experiences while homeless, and the factors that contribute to homelessness and housing instability among this community. It also outlines a series of recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers to meet the housing needs of transgender young people and to improve outcomes for those experiencing homelessness.

Date Published: February 2015

Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex

This study is among the first to focus on the experiences of LGBTQ youth, YMSM, and YWSW who have self-reported engagement in survival sex in New York City. Some of the existing literature assumes that young men and transgender youth who engage in survival sex do so voluntarily or as a by-product of a “deviant homosexual” subculture; others argue that unlike female youth, male youth take only pleasure from engagement in the sex trade or approach such engagement as a coming-of-age rite. However, few existing studies of youth engaged in survival sex use peer-to-peer interviews to explore LGBTQ youths’ perspectives on their own experiences, circumstances, service needs, and desires for individual and social change. A main goal of this study is to describe and quantify these youths’ experiences and characteristics to gain a better understanding of their engagement in survival sex and how the support networks and systems in their lives have both helped them and let them down.

Date Published: February 2015

Street Outreach Program Data Collection Project Executive Summary

The Street Outreach Program (SOP), administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), Administration on Children, Youth and Families, provides outreach to runaway and homeless youth on the streets or in areas that increase the risk of sexual exploitation with the goal to help young people get off the streets. To that end, the program promotes efforts by its funded grantees to build relationships between street outreach workers and homeless street youth. Grantees also provide support services that aim to move youth into shelter or stable housing and prepare them for independence. The aim of the SOP Data Collection Project was to obtain information on service utilization and needs from a subset of homeless street youth being served by a cohort of SOP grantees funded in fiscal year 2010. The goal was to learn about street youths’ needs from their perspective, to better understand which services youth find helpful or not helpful, and to identify alternative services they feel could be useful to them.

Date Published: October 2014

Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grantees

Drawing on site visit interviews as well as reviews of agency documents and forms, this report presents findings on four topics: (1) agencies’ collection and use of data on clients’ sexual orientation and gender identity, (2) providers’ assessment and perceptions of needs and capacities among LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth (RHY), (3) providers’ approaches to serving LGBTQ RHY, and (4) providers’ perceptions of research gaps and data needs related to services for LGBTQ RHY. The study concludes by suggesting issues for policymakers and practitioners to consider related to collecting data on, and serving, this population.

Date Published: February 2014

National Transgender Discrimination Survey

In 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National LGBTQ Task Force released the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Interviews with over 6,400 transgender and gender non-conforming people make it the largest such study ever conducted. This report provides information on discrimination in every major area of life — including housing, employment, health and health care, education, public accommodation, family life, criminal justice and government identity documents. In virtually every setting, the data underscores the urgent need for policymakers and community leaders to change their business-as-usual approach and confront the devastating consequences of anti-transgender bias.

Date Published: September 2012