District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser released the results of the 2015 Homeless Youth Census at a press conference held at Casa Ruby on Wednesday, January 13th. The Census is now required to be conducted every five years due to the passage of The LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Act; legislation introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh and Mayor Muriel Bowser (when she served on the Council).
The Homeless Youth Census, which used the social media hashtag #youthcountdc, took place over a nine day period in August of 2015. The census counted youth 24 years of age and younger who were either homeless or had unstable, unsafe, or temporary housing.
The results were consistent with what has been seen in other parts of the country. Of the 318 youth surveyed, 43% of the youth identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. 15% of those referenced a conflict with their family due to their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression as a contributing factor to their homelessness.
Mayor Bowser and the Office of LGBTQ Affairs announced five mini-grants to local organizations working to support and advocate for homeless LGBT Youth. In addition, Mario Acosta-Velez, Director of State and Government Affairs for Verizon, announced a $20,000 grant to the Wanda Alston Foundation and a $25,000 grant to SMYAL from the Verizon Foundation..
The District of Columbia is fortunate to have dedicated beds for homeless LGBT Youth at both Casa Ruby and the Wanda Alston Foundation. The census data clearly demonstrates, however, that more work can be done. There are currently at least 100 more homeless LGBT youth than there are beds. The current waiting list at Casa Ruby serves as further evidence to this fact.