Ruth Ellis Center Hosts White House LGBTQ Conference

A White House conference hosted by the Ruth Ellis Center, a Family and Youth Services Bureau grantee in Detroit, has shined a national spotlight on the high rate of homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

The White House Conference on LGBT Housing and Homelessness was held March 9 at Wayne State University. Speakers included Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Bryan Samuels, who heads the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, of which FYSB is a part.

By some estimates, up to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Many of these youth are turned away from traditional homeless shelters or may not feel comfortable there.

“The decision to hold a conference on this issue in the Detroit area brings an even greater level of visibility not just to the issue itself but to the unique landscape here, for in Detroit, even more so than in other cities, out-of-home LGBTQ youth must navigate a labyrinth of dangers to find the shelter and support they need,” wrote Laura A. Hughes, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center, in The Huffington Post on the day of the conference. “Over 2,000 LGBTQ youth in Detroit are driven onto the streets each year, and up to 800 are on the streets every day.”

The Ruth Ellis Center is the only organization in the Midwest dedicated to serving LGBTQ homeless youth. It runs a FYSB-funded transitional living program, as well as providing other services to young people.