Spotlight Exclusives

Series Documents the Challenges Facing Chicago۪s Homeless LBGTQ Youth

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“A lot of people wouldn۪t tell I was homeless by the way I dress or keep myself up. To you it looks like I۪m going to work or going somewhere, but I۪m just walking around.”


This is the one of the many voices of Chicago۪s homeless, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Many find themselves homeless after being kicked out of their homes or fleeing from abuse. Others have complicated home situations, including incarcerated parents, family poverty or the lack of a support system, that lead them to the streets.


This week,  Windy City Times, an LGBTQ newspaper in Chicago, launched an eight-week multimedia seriesprint articles, photos, videos and surveysdocumenting these disconnected youth, particularly blacks and Latinos. The series culminates three and a half months of field work following 100 participating youth and the service providers who are trying to help them in Chicago۪s Lakeview neighborhood and surrounding areas. Initial survey findings indicate that a majority of the interviewed youth are receiving assistance from local programs such as health care and General Education Development (GED) classes. (Nearly half of the youth reported being unemployed or not having a high school degree.) Many of the LGBTQ youth who went to shelters in search of housing said they were confronted with homophobic attitudes and violence from other residents, including rape and theft.  In addition, the survey reveals that many of the youth have felt harassed by both police and residents, even in gay-friendly neighborhoods.

According to a nationwide survey of homeless service providers, 94 percent of these programs now work with LGBTQ youth, a 12 percent jump from a decade ago. The findings demonstrate that this population is at high-risk of homelessness and in need of critical supports.


View a preview of The Windy City Times series below.

Windy City Times Youth Series from Windy City Times on Vimeo.


Posted by Tamanna


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