PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There is a national effort to address teen homelessness among the LGBT population.
One organization in Pittsburgh is doing its part.
Their chant of 40 to none is quite simple. Their task is more difficult.
“Our kids are out here in the streets. They are surviving by any means necessary, and the parents need to be aware of that to be able to support their kids that they are unaware of what is going on out here,” Ciora Thomas, of Proud Haven, said.
There are 1.6 million homeless teenagers in the United States. Forty percent of those homeless teens identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The number is 5-7 percent in the general population.
“What we are working towards doing is establishing a center that houses homeless LGBT youth, so that there is not just a place for them to sleep, but there’s a place for them to sleep that is safe and a place they know that they can call home for at least that night,” Proud Haven Board Chairman Kyle Webster said.
Proud Haven is a non-profit organization working to take the number from 40 to none.
“We start with 40 and start getting it down to the zero and that’s our goal. This is the first day that the proclamation by the mayor has said that this day is going to the first day we are going to start talking about it in the city,” one man said.
Mayor Bill Peduto’s proclamation this week established a 40 to none day.
Proud Haven said youth often become homeless due to family rejection and leave to get away from a hostile environment.
Acknowledgement is the first step.
“We have a lot of homeless youth in the City of Pittsburgh. One thing about a city with a lot of hills and valleys is it is very easy for an invisible population to be even more invisible,” Webster said.
“We have to understand about the survival method of these teens,” Thomas said.
Talking about it is part of the process.