New Haven, CT (WTNH) – Homelessness is something that many people in our country and even our state face, and it’s a struggle for all who experience it. We know that it can be especially damaging for young adults.

CT Style Host Natasha Lubczenko recently spoke with John Lawlor, Senior Director of START, a homeless youth program at local nonprofit The Connection.

John explained what the START Program does, “We work specifically with homeless young adults ages 18 to 24, all across the state of Connecticut. Homeless young adults tend to be one of the fastest growing demographics of the homeless population throughout the nation. But they do have specific needs that differ from what their more aged counterparts would be.”

Program services include:

  • Street outreach services for homeless youth aged 16–24 in the Hartford area
  • Host home options for homeless youth under the age of 18 in the Hartford area
  • Emergency housing apartments for youth ages 18 – 24 for a stay of up to 60 days
     in the Hartford area
  • Temporary housing rental assistance for up to 2 years for youth aged 18 – 24 across the state
  • Intensive case management services
  • Financial literacy skill development
  • Life skill development
  • Educational/vocational support
  • Referrals, advocacy, crisis intervention and counseling services

According to John, a large percentage of homeless youth are part of the LGBTQ+ community. They have approximately twice the likelihood of becoming homeless than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts. This is due to a high incidence of family rejection of young adults who are “coming out,” which unfortunately remains very common.

Sadly, LGBTQ+ youth are also at twice the likelihood for early death. Often seeking a solution to their homelessness, they go into sex trafficking or survival sex scenarios, much more frequently than their non- LGBTQ+ counterparts.

How can you assist a young person experiencing a housing crisis?  John says, “The most important thing you can do if you know a homeless youth or someone who’s unstable, is to contact the number 211, which is our centralized coordinated intake contact number. We actually need community support getting that word out there.  Most young people don’t even know to do that in order to receive assistance.”

For further information about the START program, contact the program’s referral line, at
(860) 878-4042 or at youthoutreach@theconnectioninc.org.