LGBTQ homeless youth in San Francisco have a place to call home for the holidays

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's LGBT center is finding homeless youth a home for the holidays.

It's run by a "Host Home" program financed by federal Housing and Urban Development funds.

The nationally-recognized program aims to find volunteers to house homeless LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 for a period of three months to one year.

San Francisco residents Adam and Decima became hosts as a way to give back to the community.

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"Knowing that we have the space and being able to utilize it in a way that could help someone on their journey is rewarding," said Decima.

Jay Young is one of three people housed through the program over the holidays.

Young has struggled to find a safe home in the city over the past five years.

"Definitely with Christmas, I'm really happy to have this place and such a family dynamic," said Young. "It's something a lot of kids don't have, I'm really grateful."

According to the San Francisco 2019 Youth Homeless Count and Survey, 46 percent of youth experiencing homelessness in the city identify as LGBTQ.

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That's slightly higher than national statistics reporting 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ, according to civil rights research organization Lambda Legal.

"As you know it's been incredibly difficult to find hosts during this time," said Karessa Irvin, program manager for San Francisco's LGBTQ center.

According to Irvin, the center helps pair youth with families who can provide extra space in their home.
"When COVID happened, it lent itself to have a bigger conversation about wellness and we gave people best practices, we talked about what the CDC recommended, gave a list of free testing sites, making sure everyone felt comfortable," Irvin said.

No youth or host families affiliated with the Host Home program have contracted COVID-19. The San Francisco LGBT Center has partnered with law firms to ensure hosts who volunteer also have liability protections.

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