The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
“When I transitioned, I transitioned into poverty.” This statement by Ruby Corado, a transgender woman who founded a Bilingual Multicultural Drop Inn-Community Center for vulnerable LGBT individuals, highlights the economic and housing hardships many LGBT individuals face. Although LGBT individuals make up a small percentage of the population, 40% of the homeless youth served by agencies that administer homeless services identify as LGBT.
At a recent event with GLOE at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center, Ruby, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh, Wanda Alston Foundation Executive Director Ken Pettigrew and DC Child and Family Services Agency employee Brandynicole Brooks spoke about the issues contributing to high rates of LGBT youth homelessness. They explained that oftentimes LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes or need to be removed by Child and Family Services because of abuse and neglect stemming from anti-LGBT bigotry. In addition, many of these youth do not feel safe or welcome at shelters and other spaces geared towards individuals who experience homelessness. Since federal laws do not protect individuals from being denied housing or being fired for their sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT individuals face additional challenges maintaining well-paying job or finding stable housing compared to their straight counterparts.
Jewish history is a history of wandering without a long-term place to call home. From wandering in the desert for forty years in biblical times to the persecution and expulsion of Jews that continued across many continents during the 20th century, Jews know what it is like to not have a home. In addition, Isiah 58:7 instructs us to “Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.”
Many organizations that work with youth who experience homelessness need your help. You can make a difference by donating clothing, food, and other items to local organizations, volunteering your time or by becoming an advocate on the local, state or national level. The RAC also offers various resources on the issue of housing and homelessness. In addition, as individuals who have experienced homelessness find employment, it is often difficult for them to find affordable housing. The National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) was established to build, rehabilitate and repair affordable housing units for low-income people, yet it was never funded. Take action now to support robust funding for NHTF! Ultimately, it is our responsibility to not just help those who experience homelessness through donations in the short term but also support structures that will help them find stable affordable housing in the long term.