Motion focuses on communities of color and LGBTQ youth
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to 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.
“We must continue to provide leadership and commitment to making people aware of the disproportionate impact of homelessness on LGBTQ youth and youth of color and ensure that services are available to all,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, the sponsor of the motion. “Thank you to the Council and the communities who stepped forward in support of this important motion.”
“Homeless youth, regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation must have equal access to the services they need,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “This motion calls attention to the needs of a vulnerable population and works to ensure equitable access to services that are safe, supportive and effective.”
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 adopted 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.
“Homelessness contributes to disproportionality in our juvenile justice system. Housing is a human right,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Thus, we must ensure that all youth regardless of their race, gender identification and sexual orientation can access housing.”
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.
“I appreciate the work of the Homeless Youth and Young Adult Initiative and its Project EQTY, said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect while acquiring access to the services that will help them thrive in our community.”
The motion expresses 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. It also expresses the Council’s 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.