About the Issue
Several studies have concluded that in the U.S., approximately 20% to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT. In the Milwaukee metropolitan area, the specific number of homeless LGBT youth has not been recorded. However, reports indicate that there may be up to 400 homeless youth on the streets in the Milwaukee area on any given night. And, currently, there are only 16 emergency shelter beds for runway and homeless youth. Some studies have reported that youth are coming out at a younger age and that they face families that not supportive of their sexual identification. This, in turn, leads to high numbers of homeless LGBT youth.
What We Are Doing
After input from many community groups, organizations, and key stakeholders, Cream City Foundation convened local youth-service providers and agencies to address this issue. A holistic approach was crafted and named the LGBT Youth Homelessness Initiative. The Initiative aims to create social change that will result in a society that welcomes, embraces and adequately provides for LGBT youth. There are four goals to the Initiative:
- Data Collection: Researching, tracking and analyzing the number of LGBT homeless youth in the Milwaukee-area
- Independent Living: Establishing a unique independent living model that will serve the needs of up to 25 LGBT homeless youth.
- Advocacy and Policy Reform: Ensuring youth shelters and group homes provide adequate care and protection to vulnerable LGBT youth by advocating for sexual orientation non-discrimination policies and for mandatory LGBT-related training for youth shelter and group home providers.
- Community Outreach and Education: Educating the community, funders, and elected officials on the issue and the need to commit funding to reducing the number of LGBT homeless youth in the Milwaukee-area.
The success of the Initiative lies in the collaborative effort of several hard-working community partners who each contribute to the planning and implementation of unique approaches to addressing LGBT youth homelessness in our community. Community partners include:
- American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation
- Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin
- Fair Wisconsin
- Lad Lake Inc
- Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
- UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Urban Initiatives and Research
Funding & Support
Significant funding and support for the LGBT Youth Homelessness Initiative is provided by Cream City Foundation donors and the following partnering foundations:
- Helen Bader Foundation
- Tides Foundation
- William Stark Jones Foundation
Interview on 88Nine RadioMilwaukee:
Interviews on WUWM 89.7FM on LGBT Youth Homelessness: