In response to the DC City Council’s budget oversight hearing for the Department of Human Services, the Youth Working Group submitted testimony regarding LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in DC. The Youth Working Group urged the Council to consider the need for a safe system for youth to submit complaints and the need for LGBTQ competency training at shelters and housing providers. Read the full testimony letter the Working Group submitted below.
Did you know the DC Center has lockers for youth experiencing homelessness?
For more information on the Youth Working Group, visit https://thedccenter.org/youth/
Dear City Council Members,
I am writing today on behalf of the Youth Working Group at the DC Center for The LGBT Community. We are a group of adult advocates who work with LGBTQ youth in a variety of contexts and organizations throughout the city and come together at the DC Center on a monthly basis with the goal of ensuring that LGBTQ youth in D.C. can enjoy freedom from displacement, harassment, and bullying, in a community where youth feel safe, respected, and connected.
At this time, we would like to raise concerns about the safety of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. As we know, nearly 40% of youth experiencing homeless in D.C. identify as LGBTQ. These youth are placed at an increased risk of harassment from both peers and facility staff when entering shelters and housing providers, often leaving youth unsafe and vulnerable when visiting these facilities. We have noted, however, that when issues do arise, there is no safe way for youth to submit complaints without fear of retaliation. For many youth, the possibility of jeopardizing their housing situation constitutes too high a risk to raise concerns directly.
As such, we ask that the Council support and set aside aside funding for the creation of an anonymous complaint system for shelter and housing providers, giving LGBTQ youth the opportunity to express their concerns–and compliments– with the assurance that they will be heard and efficiently followed up on. Relatedly, we urge the Council to consider the need for and bring forth legislation to enact LGBTQ competency training for all staff at shelter facilities and housing programs in the District of Columbia. These persons are integral to the services provided youth in the District, and LGBTQ competency is essential when interacting with this vulnerable population. We consider this equally as important as the legislation for mandatory competency training enacted in 2016 (B21-0168) for healthcare providers serving LGBTQ youth. Finally, we also affirm the proposal for additional funding for youth beds and encourage the expansion of capacity in low-barrier shelters for LGBT youth.
We appreciate your time and consideration of these requests.
on behalf of the Youth Working Group
The DC Center for the LGBT Community