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On the Streets: LGBTQ Youth and Homelessness

A startling percentage of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. What are the facts, and how can these children find help?


Estimated number of homeless individuals in 2013 (1)


Number of homeless youth (1)

National homeless rate in the U.S. is 19 homeless persons per 10,000 people. (1)

Life as LGBTQ


Percentage of LGBTQ youth who say the community in which they live is not accepting (2)

LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they’ve been physically assaulted at school. (2)


Percentage of LGBTQ youth who say one of their biggest problem is not being accepted by their family (2)

LGBTQ Homelessness


Percentage of homeless youth who are LGBTQ (3)

Top reasons for LGBTQ youth homelessness (3)

Family rejection: 46%

Forced out by parents: 43%

Abuse at home: 32%

Aged out of foster care: 17%

Neglect from family: 14%

Dangers faced by homeless youth (4)

Poor health

Sexual victimization


Mental health issues

Substance abuse

Lack of self-sufficiency skills

No longer able to attend school

Juvenile justice system


Percentage of homeless LGBTQ youth who have been sexually victimized. Compare to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth. (5)


LGBTQ homeless youth suicide rate. Compare to 29% in heterosexual homeless youth. (5)

Help Is Out There

Breakdown of services (5)

Service: Percentage of clients who are LGBTQ

Drop-in centers: 43%

Street outreach: 30%

Housing programs: 30%

In many states there are shelters and programs that provide helpful services to LGBTQ homeless youth in particular. Here are a few examples. (6, 7, 8, 9)

Ali Forney Center

Where: New York City

What: Youth outreach, drop-in centers with clinics and bathing facilities, and emergency housing.

The Ali Forney Center talks to 500 to 600 youth a month on the streets about their services.

They hold 28 beds for emergency housing and 30 beds of transitional housing where youth are encouraged to work or continue their high school degree.

The Ruth Ellis Center

Where: Detroit and Southeastern Michigan

What: Street outreach, drop-in centers, and transitional housing.

The Ruth Ellis Center served 2,535 youth just last year.

Youth First Resource Center

Where: North Texas

What: Educational programs, STD testing, activities and counseling

Around 15,000 LGBTQ youth live in North Texas.

Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center on Highland

Where: Los Angeles, CA

What: Meals, clothing, laundry, showers, Internet access, a career center, and support groups for homeless LGBTQ youth.

The Night Ministry’s “The Crib”

Where: Chicago, IL

What: An emergency overnight shelter for homeless young adults in Chicago that offers food and supportive programming.

The Crib has space for 20 youth ages 18 to 24 each night.