Homeless LGBT people struggle to be recognized

The New York Times did an in-depth look at LGBT homelessness. Homelessness has been a growing concern within the LGBT community, especially among LGBT youth. In San Francisco 29% of the homeless population identify as LGBT. This statistic was a surprise to San Francisco city leaders considering San Francisco is thought of as a safe place for LGBT people. LGBT homelessness is compounded by the stigma of HIV and AIDS. LGBT people do not feel safe in the city's shelters where they are often the victim of theft and prejudice.

Bevan Dufty, the director of the city’s homelessness initiatives and Kara Zordel, a coordinator of Homeless Connect, held an event in October that helped provide medical and dental services and other assistance to the homeless LGBT community. San Francisco's planning commission approved permits for a 24-bed shelter in August of this year to help alleviate the problem. The shelter is expected to open soon. There are now more cities showing interest in San Francisco’s efforts to solve the homeless problem. Officials from Santa Clara and Phoenix attended the Homeless Connect event to see what their cities can do.

Brian Basinger, a co-founder of the AIDS Housing Alliance in San Francisco, said the harassment of gays is common in the city’s shelters. People there “do not have a lot of status in society to begin with, and so the way they protect or generate status in these social environments is to step on the queers,” Mr. Basinger said. Gay and transgender residents have their shoes stolen, he said. They are robbed or beaten up in line. Mr. Basinger, whose partner was homeless for 10 years and who came close to being homeless himself after he developed AIDS, brought in an architect to design the new shelter.

“I really wanted to think about how does the built environment impact people’s experiences,” he said. “So we spent a lot of time thinking that through and talking to people and designing something that was going to be functional and respect people’s dignity.”

But the shelter will house only a fraction of those who are without homes.

The New York Times has the full story.