By Chris Rudisill
December 11, 2020
The impacts of COVID-19 on a community can be complex. People across our region have experienced its myriad effects on life the past several months, from unemployment to housing instability, but for LGBTQ youth those factors are often multiplied.
“People of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ)-identified people, irrespective of age, are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases and be at a higher risk of COVID-19,” states a recent report from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which outlines the rehousing of LGBTQ young people as a critical component to its Emergency Solutions Grants recipients’ COVID-19 response. “Additionally, typical experiences of many youth and young adults who experience homelessness result in greater challenges to obtain stable housing and increase the likelihood of contact with more people, widening the spread of the virus.”
Time Out Youth Center (TOY) has been serving the LGBTQ youth population of the Charlotte region for decades and their housing support programs have never been more important than in 2020, as a pandemic rages on across the region. “The lack of resources afforded to the poor people or marginalized communities — COVID has exposed that,” says Shakira Clarke, the youth housing specialist at TOY. Since March, the organization has housed 28 people. Youth range from 18 to 24 years old in the housing program, while those 11 to 20 years old can access the services of the organization.
Clarke is happy that everyone that has been housed in the program is still housed, despite reduced working hours for people. “No one has lost their job due to COVID,” she says, speaking of their current clients. While October and November are typically slower months for TOY, she says that numbers have been picking up again. Just this month, they have added one more young person to a Host Home Program and two additional individuals who are renting on their own with support from TOY. There are two more currently looking for housing.