(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen; Laura Zeilinger, Director of Department of Human Services (DHS); Sheila Alexander-Reid, Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs (MOLGBTQ); and officials from Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) to celebrate the opening and ribbon cutting of a new transitional housing program for LGBTQ youth. SMYAL has provided services to LGBTQ youth in the District for over 30 years including a telephone hotline, educational outreach programs, aftercare, and LGBTQ youth awareness trainings for professionals in schools, runaway shelters, local government agencies, and hospitals. With new initiatives and funding implemented from the Bowser Administration, Transitional Housing will now be included in SMYAL’s services to the LGBTQ youth community.
“My Administration is working tirelessly day and night to end homelessness wherever it exists in Washington, DC, especially among our youth,” said Mayor Bowser. “Today marks another critical milestone highlighting the investments my Administration is making to ensure every resident has a warm and safe place to sleep each night.”
In the summer of 2015, DHS and the Community Partnership conducted the first Homeless Youth Census (HYC). HYC counted 330 homeless youth and 215 housing insecure youth. Of the 330 homeless youth, 43% self-identified as LGBTQ. As a result, the District sought to expand the availability of LGBTQ homeless youth beds and accompanying services that will move toward greater self-sufficiency. In FY17, the District allocated an additional $2.3 million in funds to specifically support additional shelter, transitional housing beds, and homeless prevention services.
“The District is investing more than $5 million every year to implement and bring to scale solutions to youth homelessness,” said Laura Zeilinger, DHS Director. “We have set ambitious goals and I am confident in our ability to achieve them with partners like SMYAL at the table.”