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Ensuring equity of services for homeless youth

Summary

Committee supports motion focusing on communities of color and LGBTQ youth

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee today sent to the full Council, with a “do pass” recommendation, a motion supporting efforts to ensure that homeless youth of color and LGBTQ youth receive equal access to the services that will aid them in getting off the streets.

“In order to eliminate homelessness, we must recognize who is homeless and their specific needs,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, sponsor of the motion. “LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the homeless population so we must meet their needs.”

On any given night, approximately 800 Youth or Young Adults (Ages 12-25) are living on the streets of King County or at risk of becoming homeless. A growing number of those youth are either people of color, who make up 54 percent of homeless youth, or LGBTQ youth, who make up 22 percent of the homeless youth population. King County is part of a collaborative effort—the Homeless Youth and Young Adult (YYA) Initiative—working to prevent and end homelessness among young people by 2020. The proposed motion addresses an update to that plan.

The motion calls on the agencies and governments that are part of the effort—King County, the City of Seattle, United Way of King County, and other local jurisdictions, funders, and providers—to ensure that youth of color and LGBTQ youth who are over-represented among those who are homeless, receive equal access to appropriate services.

The Homeless Youth and Young Adult Initiative has developed Project EQTY, in partnership with The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse, to improve the effectiveness of the community’s services for LGBTQ youth and young adults, based on the premise that centering services around the needs of marginalized youth will result in better services for all youth.

The proposed motion would express support for efforts such as Project EQTY to ensure parity of access to and success resulting from appropriate services for homeless YYA of color and for homeless LGBTQ YYA. The proposed motion expresses Council support for approaches that serve homeless LGBTQ youth and young adults that promote acceptance of their identities; support families, so that young people can stay in or return to their homes or, if not possible, support the development of relationships in the community; and provide safe, affirming and competent care.

The motion now goes to the full Council for discussion and possible action.
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