NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As new state laws seek to make Connecticut safer and healthier for the LGBTQ community, there is a hardship you might not think about.
Gay and trans youths are much more likely to be homeless than straight young people. Some think more than 40 percent of the young homeless people out there identify as queer or trans. So if the state is looking to improve things for the LGBTQ community, it has to look at the homeless community, too.
“Currently we only have 12 youth specific beds to serve the greater New Haven region,” said outreach case manager Elizabeth Larkin.
Only 12 beds for roughly 800 homeless youth in the greater New Haven area. Larkin deals directly with homeless youth, and says, in New Haven, at least a quarter of the homeless youth identifies as LGBTQ.
“That’s because queer and trans youth are facing rejection at home, they lack adequate access to education support, the health care that they need,” Larkin said.
Homelessness is one of the things a trio of new state laws is hoping to address for the LGBTQ community. In New Haven, youth dealing with housing instability can come to the Youth Continuum on Grand Avenue, where they have a computer lab, counseling, and donated clothes and food.
The trouble is, it’s only open from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. For more than a year the group has been trying to get approval from the city to create an area with where youth can spend the night.
About three weeks ago, they finally got that approval from the City Plan Commission. What they’re going to do is build a second story on the youth continuum building. Up there will be sleeping pods with around 20 beds, along with a kitchen and dining area, sort of like a college dorm.
They are partnering with a charity called Y2Y that already built a rooming house like it for youth in Boston.
With a bill signing today, Governor Lamont creates a health and human services network designed to assess the LGBTQ community’s needs and figure out ways to meet them, and they go far beyond homelessness.
“LGBTQ youth are much likelier to experience depression, to attempt suicide, to try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and they need better supports,” said Larkin.
That is exactly what lawmakers hope happens with the new laws Governor Lamont signed Tuesday.