Veteran advocates for the homeless were surprised to learn that more than one-quarter of the homeless population in San Francisco identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to TribTown.com.
The most recent census conducted by the San Francisco Human Services Agency on January 24 found 6,436 homeless people in San Francisco, a slight drop from two years ago. This was the first time agency asked about sexual orientations.
One thousand homeless people were surveyed and 29 percent identified as LGBT. In 2006 it was estimated by the Williams Institute at UCLA that as a whole, San Francisco’s LGBT population was at 15.4 percent, the largest of any U.S. city. The percent of just the LGBT homeless in San Francisco is nearly double that.
“What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue,” Executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And when we look at our system, it’s not particularly gay-friendly.”
Other advocates like Mary Howe, executive director of the Haight Ashbury Youth Alliances think LGBT youth have been kicked out of their homes or run away and gravitated towards San Francisco because it is such a gay hotspot.
“A lot of them just want to go somewhere where they’re more accepted,” Howe told the Chronicle. “Most of them leave with very little, and they make communities out of who they meet on the street.”
Associate professor of medicine at UCSF, Dr. Margot Kushel, studies homeless heath issues at the San Francisco General Hospital. She said that a lot of adults in their 50s and 60s are at increased risk of homelessness because they lost their livelihoods and friends during the height of the AIDS epidemic.
“One of the main things that keeps anyone from winding up on the street is having a family member or friend who has the resources to take you in,” Kushel said.