KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — There is a push to provide transitional housing for LGBTQ young adults in Kalamazoo County.
According to the county, people who are LGBTQ make up 40% of homeless youth. But they say their needs are not being met.
There are programs in Kalamazoo for LGBTQ young adults, like OutFront. However, those are closed in the evening, leaving no place for them to go at night.
“They can go to shelters, but they don’t feel safe in the shelters,” said David Artley, the chair of the Kalamazoo County Public Housing Commission.
Artley says members of the LGBTQ community feel uncomfortable at a traditional homeless shelter and some shelters are not comfortable housing them.
About eight months ago, Artley and others started to put a plan together to create transitional housing and a program to accompany the home.
The idea is to give LGBTQ youth from 18-24 years old a chance to get on their feet and become self-sufficient after being abandoned by their families who would traditionally provide the same support.
“They perhaps come out of the closet (and) it wasn’t something that fit into the structure of their family. So now they are without housing and without the support of a family,” Artley said.
The house would give them a safe place to stay by allowing them to focus on education and employment while they are dealing with the emotions associated with coming out and rejection.
“Because sometimes the public is not really accepting of them,” Artley said. “I figure each individual is born to be different.”
The county has allocated $150,000 toward the effort. However, Artley says they need to double that to $300,000 in order to get the program up and running.
“This is an awesome opportunity,” he said. “You seldom get an opportunity to change the world. We are going to change lives and give these young people an opportunity to change the world.”
If the funds are raised, the hope is to have the house up and running by this summer.