New homeless support program looks to help LGBT youth - KPTV - FOX 12

New homeless support program looks to help LGBT youth

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Unity House in southeast Portland is a housing program for LGBT youth who are homeless, one of a few in the entire country.

At an open house Tuesday, organizers gave the media a chance to check out how the program will work.

New Avenues for Youth is the group behind the project. They claim that research shows while LGBT kids only represent less than 10 percent of the overall youth population in the U.S., they make up nearly 40 percent of all homeless kids.

The group hopes this new home can serve as transitional housing for them.

To live in the house, the youths have to be between 14 and 24, submit an application and then be referred by New Avenues’ Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center, or SMYRC, program.

The project organizers hope the house will be a supportive space.

"They're living in a space with specific rules like no violence or hate speech, but kind of basing their living situation and home environment off of how they feel and making the rules as they need them, as they see fit," Elaina Medina, program manager for SMYRC, explained.

One of the first residents of the house saw many benefits, including being able to gain “life skills” without the fear of being “trapped out there” when heading downtown for social services.

There is only room for five people to live in the house at a time, and organizers said they've already had to narrow it down from more than 15 applicants.

Organizers claim the only other houses like this in the country are in New York and San Francisco.

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