Finding shelter for homeless LGBTQ+ youth
As the winter weather rolls in, the need for shelter for the homeless grows, and LGBTQ+ youth are especially impacted.
That’s why a local organization is searching for Minnesotans who are willing to open their homes to the community to help meet the soaring demand.
“I didn’t grow up in an inclusive household, very conservative mother,” a former member of ConneQT, a program that aims to provide culturally responsive housing to LGBTQ+ youth, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
When he was 17, he decided the Twin Cities streets were more welcoming than his own home.
“It was scary,” he said.
After a year of being homeless, he got in touch with Avenues For Youth, which runs the Conneqt program. Through the organization, he was placed with a host family that changed his life.
“It didn’t feel like I needed to fight for their affection or their support or love. They just wanted to be there in any possible way,” he said.
“It’s really a form of mutual aid through the lens of solidarity rather than charity,” ConneQT Program Manager Ryan Berg said.
The program is a team effort, where host families provide food, shelter and support and the nonprofit offers mental health help and other services. Its demand is now soaring.
“We are seeing more youth coming from other states where there are anti-trans bills being passed, and they’re seeking out gender-affirming care and a safe space to live,” Berg said.
The program manager says LGBTQ+ youth often face harassment and violence in shelters, which leads many of them to sleep on the streets. But he says Minnesotans can help provide a warm bed instead, and their generosity and acceptance can make a world of difference.
“Just giving someone a roof over their head is enough,” the former ConneQT member told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
“I’m really grateful for the program and my parents,” he added. “I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you if it wasn’t for any of them.”
Anyone who is willing to be a host family can find more information and apply online.