Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

UCAN confronts LGBT homelessness
by Joe Franco
2011-11-09

This article shared 7997 times since Wed Nov 9, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


On the streets of Chicago tonight, there will be more than 2,000 homeless youth. ( a youth being between the ages of 18-24 ) . Of those 2,000, an estimated 20-42 percent of them identify as LGBTQ. With conservative estimates, that places over 400 LGBTQ on our streets and at-risk.

Certainly, there are shelters. However, as Bonnie Wade, the associate director of UCAN's ( Uhlich Children's Advantage Network's ) LGBTQ Host Home Program, pointed out, "There are currently 189 youth shelter beds for more than 2,000 homeless youth. Just do the math." With the annual expense of up to $40,000 per bed of running youth-friendly and youth-secure shelters, Wade and others like her found a novel approach to combating the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness here in Chicago.

The LGBTQ Host Home Program looks to adults—private volunteers all—to help provide a stable but, more importantly, a safe, living space. "Shelter systems can be very unsafe for LGBTQ youth," said Wade. "While they have support staff, that staff cannot be everywhere at every moment of the night. Oftentimes the youth are victims of homophobic violence."

"Sometimes the youth could be at a bar, picking someone up and 'cuddling' with them one night and then out on the street hustling the next," said Wade. Such an itinerant lifestyle infrequently fosters a sense of community and does not vest any interest in the stability, safety or sanitation of a given neighborhood.

The involvement of each host home volunteer can vary as much as the LGBTQ youth placed in the home. Sometimes a volunteer host may be asked to listen or talk or provide some support and guidance to a youth. Sometimes, the youth are more self-sufficient and require little more than a safe space. "The program is about developing relationships. Remember, its people not social workers, who provide the support," said Wade. "These are real relationships with real problems. Things do come up. There is going to be some real interaction." Each host home must develop a set of "house courtesies". The LGBTQ youth and their host home volunteer draft the courtesies themselves. "Who better to set the guidelines for a household than those who actually live there," said Wade.

The adult volunteer goes through a two-to-three-month process involving an application, two interviews, 16 hours of training, a background check and a drug screening before they are even considered as candidates. "The interview process is revolutionary," said Wade. "We have a community advisory council comprised of both formerly homeless LGBTQ youth and adult representatives, like me."

Wade pointed out that no one member has a clearer voice, more clout or a greater vote: "This is youth and adults working together to solve a common issue." If a volunteer host is accepted, they are paired with a homeless LGBTQ youth who has undergone a similar process. "We look at the background of the youth in context," said Wade.

She noted that, often, LGBTQ youth are targets for the police and can have a disproportionately larger list of public offenses. "But a two or three year old offense for stealing to feed yourself because you are starving should properly be looked at in context," Wade said. However, she stressed that violent youth, those who have shot or stabbed or have beaten others are screened from the program.

The host volunteer is expected to write a letter to the youth explaining who they are and what to expect in their home. The youth then reads these letters and a face-to-face meeting is arranged. Each party is encouraged to wait a full day before making any decisions. "Sometimes it's at instant match and sometimes they meet four or more times to be sure. Each match is different", said Wade. "This process is for the advancement of the physical and emotional safety for both the youth and the host volunteer."

"This is an intergenerational framework," said Wade. "Our organization has youth and adults working together." Wade pointed out "when people can choose where, with whom and how they live together, this is transformational healing." Wade said, "Trauma has happened to all of us. It is our reactions to what has triggered the trauma that we need to deal with." The host home is not an island unto itself. Wade noted numerous support services provided both the youth and the host while the match is in effect. There are monthly check-ins, quarterly community brunches and a 24-hour crisis line.

"Host home volunteers commit to a minimum of one year with as much as two years," said Wade. When compared with the $40,000 it costs to run a shelter bed, the $8,100.it costs to host a youth for a year seems more than a civic bargain.

Wade said, "Out of the original youth who were matched some have actually moved out, gotten good jobs with benefits and are living on their own! The youth are doing their part. They do not want handouts. A self-sufficient life—that is the goal of this program."

She added, "This is a chance to look at which resources we can share with one another so that people can grow and be healed. It is our responsibility to see to it that these youth become adults. This is our opportunity to move them beyond life on the streets."

On Nov. 3, UCAN's LGBTQ Host Home Program hosted a wine-and-cheese fundraiser with raffles and a silent auction to benefit the program. ABC7 news reporter Jason Knowles was on hand to open the remarks.

Wade stressed that UCAN's host home program was "not about bricks and mortar" but rather "about creating a community. The highlight of the evening was a speech from a youth graduate of the program. He said that there are oftentimes misconceptions about homeless youth: "People think that homeless youth are hoodlums, lazy and uneducated. But what if there were those who valued an education and weren't lazy or hoodlums?"

After being literally locked out of his own home after coming out, he moved from "place to place, basement to living room and couch to floor." The UCAN LGBT Host Home graduate spent 15 months in his host home while he finished his associate's degree at Harold Washington College, earning top grades. He said, "I needed stability. I knew I could do better but just needed that little extra help, and UCAN provided that." Currently, he is completely self-sufficient and attending the Illinois Institute of Technology with a major in computer engineering.

Windy City Times spoke with the graduate prior to his speech. He also spoke about the conditions in the community where he grew up: "People were living in the streets. They were surrounded by bad influences. It only took one person to scare everyone else in the neighborhood to think and act like him."

When asked what compelled him to resist, he responded, "I'm not sure. I always saw something better than what was in front of me. I just could not bring myself to go with what I believed was wrong. Even if I have to run every day, I cannot conform." He also said he hoped "to bridge the gap" and act as a catalyst for communication across racial and socio-economic lines. "It's these perceived differences that keep society behind, this fighting each other over our differences. We need to learn to live together."

For more information on UCAN's LGBTQ Host Home Program or to apply to become a candidate host home or youth, please see the organization's website at www.ucanchicago.org/host-home or call Wade at 773-738-5966.

More pics from the Nov. 3 event are online at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .


This article shared 7997 times since Wed Nov 9, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

About Face to run immersive comedy about climate-change activism
2022-05-27
About Face Theatre brings its 27th season to a close with a world premiere comedy created by and starring the About Face Youth Theatre ensemble. Gayme Changers will run June 18-24 at The Den Theater, 1331 ...


Gay News

Trevor Project: 45% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in the past year
2022-05-26
The Trevor Project recently released its 2022 survey on the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth. According to an introduction from Trevor Project CEO & Executive Director Amit Paley, the survey demonstrates that rates of suicidal thoughts ...


Gay News

Batavia public school rally to call for equity in education
2022-05-24
-- From an Equality Illinois press release - BPS Parents for Equity and Justice and Batavia Public School (BPS) students to host a rally and call to action in response to ongoing inequities in the treatment of all marginalized groups and the district's reluctance ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Idaho groups, Clay Aiken, Radio Milwaukee, Louisville school
2022-05-22
In northern Idaho, two groups with different agendas plan to hold events on the same day (June 11) at Coeur d'Alene City Park—and both organizations have issued statements, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee. The ...


Gay News

GLSEN holds Respect Awards in New York
2022-05-17
On May 16, the pro-LGBTQ+ education organization GLSEN held its New York Respect Awards in Gotham Hall. At its first in-person Respect Awards in three years, the organization introduced new Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers in their ...


Gay News

Judge blocks part of Alabama law criminalizing care for trans youth
2022-05-14
On May 13, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors, USA Today reported. ...


Gay News

Texas court okays child-abuse inquries into families of trans kids
2022-05-13
On May 13, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously cleared the way for the state child-welfare agency to resume investigating parents and doctors who provide gender-affirming care for trans youth—actions Gov. Greg Abbott has equated to child ...


Gay News

Judge: Dallas hospital must start gender-affirming treatment for trans youth
2022-05-12
In Texas, Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan temporarily removed all barriers for transgender youth seeking medical treatments from Children's Medical Center Dallas—providing a major win for doctors fighting to restore ...


Gay News

Florida schools censoring students even before Don't Say Gay law goes into effect
2022-05-11
-- From a press release - TALLAHASSEE, FL — As the school year ends, students across Florida are experiencing the inevitable censorship of Florida's anti-LGBTQ Don't Say Gay law recently signed by Governor DeSantis. The law's harmful impacts are not limited to ...


Gay News

LGBTQs 4X more likely than non-LGBTQs to choose a college away from home
2022-05-11
-- From a press release - A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law conducted in collaboration with the Point Foundation, the nation's largest LGBTQ scholarship fund, finds LGBTQ people were four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people ...


Gay News

Queer college salutatorian plans to help community through food
2022-05-10
Back in March, Jose Cueva got an unexpected phone call from the president of Kennedy-King College: Cueva's perfect 4.0 GPA meant he would be graduating as salutatorian. "I was in shock; I wasn't expecting that," Cueva ...


Gay News

DoJ files suit challenging Alabama's trans youth law
2022-05-02
The U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) filed a complaint alleging that Alabama's controversial law banning gender-affirming care for youth is unconstitutional, according to AL.com. In the complaint filed in federal court ...


Gay News

WOMEN'S SOCCER U.S. team dominates; Houston coach suspended
2022-04-28
The U.S. U-17 Women's Youth National Team finished first in Group G at the 2022 Concacaf Women's U-17 Championship with a convincing 5-0 win against Costa Rica to take another step closer to qualifying for the ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Missouri lawmaker, Michigan controversy, gymnasts, Julius' Bar
2022-04-24
A lawmaker in Missouri delivered an intense condemnation of one of his Republican colleagues over an effort to keep transgender athletes out of youth sports, HuffPost reported. State Rep. Ian Mackey (D), who is gay, issued ...


Gay News

Kane County high school 'promposal' criticized as racist
2022-04-19
A recent promposal involving students at Kane County's Central High School has been criticized as racist, ABC 7 Chicago reported. A photo of the promposal that's being shared on social media shows two teens holding a ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.