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Kirei Johnson


We need options for safe, welcoming housing for LGBTQ identified young people because some people feel unsafe in other options. LGBTQ young people experience homelessness more than straight youth. Young people are often kicked out of their homes for coming out as LGBTQ, and have a hard time getting off the streets because of discrimination against them.

Discrimination against LGBTQ young people is a huge issue in this world, especially when it comes to housing. I am a trans female, and about a year ago I experienced discrimination while trying to get into an apartment with my friend, who is also transgender. The landlord rejected us and we ended up not getting stable housing because of our gender identities. Landlord discrimination is keeping LGBTQ youth on the streets.

"How can we fix these problems?
One way is by making safe
services for LGBTQ youth, by
LGBTQ-identified staff people."

How can we fix these problems? One way is by making safe services for LGBTQ youth, by LGBTQ identified staff people. Young people can relate to their case workers and feel safer if they have common ground with them. I felt safer talking to other LGBTQ identified people because I can relate to them more and know they are going through similar situations. Landlord discrimination is illegal but, sadly, it still happens. Ensuring that homeless young people have resources to get fast legal help if they have been discriminated against would help a lot of LGBTQ youth get off the streets into safe and stable housing.

There are some awesome organizations already doing work to fix these issues. The first one is ECHO (Equality Coalition for Housing and Opportunity). They are a coalition that works to come up with creative solutions to support the underemployed and underhoused in Seattle’s LGBTQIA+ community. ECHO was co-founded by Neaka Roller and Zoe Omega, who are two amazing people who were involved in an event I helped coordinate at Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS) to address violence against transgender people in Seattle. ECHO is working to find housing units that can be specifically for unstably housed LGBTQ people.

YouthCare is another amazing organization that helps provide housing to homeless LGBTQ young people. They provide drop-in services, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and GED and job programs. I stayed in one of their four transitional houses for two years, and I felt really comfortable there because their staff were friendly and supportive people I could relate to. They provide transitional housing intended to serve young people who identify as LGBTQ and allies at their ISIS House.

I have been an LGBTQ advocate for two and a half years, and I take these issues very seriously. I still find it very hard to find work or housing because of who I am as a trans female, but I have hope that in the future, transgender people will not face housing discrimination and will be able to exit homelessness.

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.