Starting today, couches will be placed all over Philadelphia to raise awareness of the city’s LGBT homeless youth problem.
Studies provided by Valley Youth House (VYH), a local non-profit that addresses youth housing insecurity, show that between 40% and 55% of the city’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA. In comparison, the national average is approximately 5% to 7%.
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This public awareness campaign is part of the launching of Sheltering Pride, a giving program that plans to connect donors one-on-one with VYH’s Pride housing program’s LGBTQIA homeless youth.
“The launch will focus on bringing awareness to the plight of homeless LGBTQIA youth, who are too often an invisible population because they are sleeping on friends’ couches in addition to the streets,” said Valerie Johnson, Development Officer for VYH.
VYH is sponsoring several pop-up couch events in the city this week to provide more information on the current local crisis. They are also encouraging followers to use the hashtag #CouchesDontCount on social media to further break the stigma of housing insecurity for those in the LGBT youth community who need proper support.
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“You can only go from house to house so many times before you are eventually on your own for real,” said Jodie Stevens, 22. “When my foster parent found out that I was gender-queer, she kicked me out…I spent 3 months sleeping on floors and couches of friends and guys I met at bars before eventually I was homeless.”
Stevens is now doing contractor work for a start-up firm in New Jersey and plans to attend some of the VYH events this week. “It took a while for me to get stable, but I know there are so many people out there that who don’t know how messed this problem is…I’m happy someone is sharing the truth,” she added.
Valley Youth House will be having events for the duration of the week with special guests at popular Philadelphia venues, including:
Thursday, October 8
National Constitution Center, 6th & Market
12pm - 1pm
Woody’s, 202 South 13th Street, with special guest Nicole Michalik, DJ at Mix 106.1
4:30pm - 5:30pm