If you’ve been actively participating in Union Grove since we returned to in-person worship in May 2021, you know that the number of homeless youth in Blount County was the impetus behind our Bruno Projects, with Bruno IV being the ultimate goal specifically to house as many of those youth as possible. That’s why I am sharing this with you (huge thanks to the Rainbow Youth Project for compiling this information). We can make a difference both here in Blount County TN by working to bring Union Grove UMC’s Bruno Projects to fruition, and by supporting other organizations with mutual goals. As you approach the end of the year and especially the upcoming holiday season, consider giving a special gift to our Bruno Fund or to Rainbow Youth Project in honor of another who spent his last few years on the earth homeless.  

November was first declared as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month in 2007. Since then, November has been a time to acknowledge those children and families experiencing homelessness. As many as 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness. Of those, up to 40% identify as LGBTQ+. Along with losing their home, community, friends, and routines as well as their sense of stability and safety, many homeless youths are also victims of trauma. While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to countless dangers, with an increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and a vulnerability to being trafficked.

The numbers:

Overall, 28% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives. 

Nearly half (44%) of Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth have experienced homelessness or housing instability at some point in their life, compared to 16% of Asian American/Pacific Islander youth, 27% of White LGBTQ youth, 27% of Latinx LGBTQ youth, 26% of Black LGBTQ youth, and 36% of multiracial LGBTQ youth. 

Homelessness and housing instability were reported at higher rates among transgender and nonbinary youth, including 38% of transgender girls/women, 39% of transgender boys/men, and 35% of nonbinary youth, compared to 23% of cisgender LGBQ youth. 

16% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had slept away from parents or caregivers because they ran away from home, with more than half (55%) reporting that they ran away from home because of mistreatment or fear of mistreatment due to their LGBTQ identity.

14% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had slept away from parents or caregivers because they were kicked out or abandoned, with 40% reporting that they were kicked out or abandoned due to their LGBTQ identity.

Recommendation Summary

Preventing LGBTQ Youth Homelessness. Strong anti-discrimination policies in the workplace and strong anti-bully and harassment policies in schools can be effective in helping LGBTQ youth stay connected to school and employment, increasing their skills and future earnings, and making it easier for them to maintain stable housing. Additionally, since family conflict around youths’ LGBTQ identities is a driving factor in LGBTQ youth homelessness, developing family counseling or mediation programs may be effective at decreasing conflict and keeping LGBTQ youth in their homes and connected to their families. Special attention should also be paid to preventing housing instability among LGBTQ youth in foster care through case management and exit planning for youth exiting care. 

Increased Funding for Low-Barrier Housing Programs.  More funding should be allocated for safe, low-barrier housing programs which can have an immediate positive impact on LGBTQ youth experiencing housing instability.

Reimagining Shelter Services. One immediate action that housing providers can take to support LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness is to make sure that all shelter and housing facilities provide culturally competent services to LGBTQ youth.

Improved Data Collection on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness. Better data is needed to understand the full scope and impact of LGBTQ youth homelessness in the United States. Questions about both LGBTQ identity and housing status should be added to population surveys of youth and young adults, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). 

Anti-Poverty Economic Policies. LGBTQ youth are impacted by their families’ and communities’ economic stability. Policies that combat poverty at the societal level will have a positive impact on LGBTQ youths’ access to safe and secure housing. Economic upheavals, such as what we are seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic, increase economic pressure on low-income households and make it even more urgent for legislators to tackle root causes of poverty in the United States to the benefit of LGBTQ youth, their families, and their communities.

Rainbow Youth Project USA continues to provide no cost services to LGBTQIA+ young people under the age of 19. These services include providing food, clothing, transitional housing, medical care, mental health counseling, and educational opportunities. Together, we can end youth homelessness. Thank you for helping us, help them.

If you are able, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through our secure online service provided by Tithe.ly. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove. Just visit https://give.tithe.ly/?formId=65149a30-5d42-11ee-90fc-1260ab546d11 and follow the instruction for making your offering. You may be prompted to create an account with them. There is no fee for the account or for making your offering through Tithe.ly. 

If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:

Union Grove UMC
1151 Lane Drive
Friendsville, TN 37737

Please be sure to make your checks payable to "Union Grove UMC Friendsville".

Please note that 100% of offerings received during or from Second Sunday Community of Faith gatherings are redistributed to relevant community and national organizations. If you are making an offering after viewing a Second Sunday gathering, please designate "Second Sunday" (from the drop down menu on Tithe.ly or on the Memo line of your check) so we can ensure your offering is distributed accordingly.

For more information on how our offering receipts are used and our designated funds, please visit "For Those Who Are Able" on the menu bar at the top or bottom of this page.