During June's Pride month we want to remind those celebrating our gains of the work still needing to be done to address LGBTQ youth homelessness in our communities.

What Is LFI?

LFI, also known as Leffler Foundation Inc, is a 509(a)(2) public charity that is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, incorporated as a nonprofit in Kentucky in 2020.  

We’ve been verified by techsoup.org and admitted to the Google Nonprofits programs, and earned the Google Ad Grant, which allows us to promote our mission.  We are very grateful to Google for this gift.

We provide free technical access, training and career skills opportunities within Louisville, KY to underserved young adults. Homelessness plagues this population and we are working to provide a stable environment for clients to learn.  

LGBTQ identifying young adults make up 40% of the population.  Its a shocking statistic and its cause is often family rejection.  

Tech Access

We provide the tools necessary to access the benefits of technology, often these are refurbished laptops and more

Tech Training

We teach tech skills and have created a tech program called Kentucky.University.  Which provides free college courses from several accredited institutions.

Safe Environment

We will provide a stable environment for students to learn. Our House will be an inclusive home offering LGBTQ youths respect lacking elsewhere.

The Local Need

17,000 young adults in Louisville are lost, they’ve been referred to as “disconnected” from society. Louisville’s 12% disconnected rate ranks among the highest.  That averages out to one in ten, and if they are a minority that rockets up to one in four. They are out of work and are not in school. It’s called “Louisville’s 15 billion dollar problem” when we consider the impact on the economy, crime, and wasted potential. Most are homeless or nearly homeless jumping from couch to couch crashing for the night where they can. Society says they should get a job, most don’t have a laptop and many don’t know how to use one anyway.  Trying to get a job often requires the ability to apply online, and listing an address.

I Don’t See That Many

You should know them, you see them, you just choose to look beyond them. They’re that young person sitting, at a closed fast food restaurant during the night. They carry their backpack, its a tale tale sign, s school is not in session.  Putting that backpack down, risks losing everything. Some started this journey as 13 yr old runaways or another LFI client was orphaned after the loss of a mother to cancer, then by discovering the suicide of their father, all before they finished high school.  These are not fictional stories.  What opportunities await them? They often don’t have drivers licenses cause they lacked the support network for that life milestone.  Travel is limited to biking if the weather allows. Many lack a diploma or GED and getting an education is a luxury, right now they need shelter and safety.  Often the safest place they find is jail.
Louisville, KY Homeless Encampment

Someone Else Will Tackle This Right?

JCPS, would make sense to lead a young adult education program in Louisville, has said it has no plans to address this population.  How could they, when they were almost taken over by the state as it is.  Article on the issue in the Courier Journal.

Of These 17000 Disconnected Youth…

  • 45% had been in foster or kinship care or lived in a residential facility
  • 44% have been arrested
  • 34% are parents
  • 26% are homeless

Who Are They?

Minorities make up a majority of their numbers.  But not just race.

40% identify as LGBTQ.  LGBTQ persons face social stigma, discrimination, and often rejection by their families, which adds to the physical and mental strains/challenges that all homelessness persons must struggle with.

How does a population that makes up 10% of society become 40% of this homeless population?  

The most frequently cited factor was family rejection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Yes, it is 2020 and parents still shun their children.  Shameful, that the support network most of us take for granted is denied others.  The second most common reason is being forced out by their parents after coming out, basically letting others know who they are.

  • 43% of clients served by drop-in centers identified as LGBTQ
  • 30% of street outreach clients identified as LGBTQ
  • According to the Williams Institute, 40% of homeless youth served by agencies identify as LDBTQ.

Wayside Christian isn’t that Christian. 

Louisville has family shelters, but it depends on their definition of a family.  

Frequently, homeless LGBTQ persons have difficulty finding shelters that accept and respect them.  

Survival sex is common and so is substance abuse which both tend to lead towards incarceration which just seals the deal.  

 

It’s not surprising that nearly two thirds of this vulnerable population will try to end their life.

We’ve noted a lot of facts and information so far but this is not getting any better. 

When someone is vulnerable they are often preyed on.  A recent study of youths experiencing homelessness in Kentuckiana revealed 41% of homeless youth had been sex trafficked. 

Approximately 65 percent of heterosexual and 28 percent of LGBTQ homeless youth indicated they were sex trafficking victims.  

A very recent research paper on the state of local homelessness is available in Street Homelessness In Louisville.  

We’ve taken the following from their work and want to extend all credit to these authors for what is quoted below:

“Additionally, LGBTQ individuals experiencing homelessness often face inordinate challenges in accessing homeless supports. Shelters frequently fail to demonstrate acceptance of or respect for LGBTQ people.  Acceptance is even more limited for transgender people; indeed, some shelters even post signs barring transgender people, or if they do allow them, fail to respect rights as basic as bathroom preferences consistent with their gender identification. LGBTQ individuals experiencing homelessness are at even greater risk than their heterosexual peers for violence and abuse —as indicated previously, this often includes sex trafficking. In addition, because transgender individuals are turned away from shelters at a higher rate, they share a physical risk that is higher still. 

The experience of multiple, interrelated risk factors is especially common among LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth, and outcomes are worse in terms of mental health, physical health, substance use, illegal activity, educational attainment, and employment.  Given the complex trauma that is exacerbated by homelessness, LGBTQ individuals in this subpopulation of homeless often demonstrate impairment that spans many levels of functioning (e.g., affective, cognitive, and behavioral).

– Solving Street Homelessness In Louisville June 13 2019

That report is not about some big city problem, it’s Everywhere, America.

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