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Report: One-third of San Francisco’s homeless identify as LGBT

Saturday, June 22, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — More than one-quarter of the homeless people counted in San Francisco this year identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, a proportion that surprised veteran advocates for the homeless who say that gays are overrepresented in the ranks of homeless youth and elderly.

The San Francisco Human Services Agency reported Friday that a total of 6,436 homeless people were found throughout the city on Jan. 24, when the most recent census to identify service needs and required for federal funding was conducted.

The number represented a slight drop from two years ago.

But this was the first time the agency asked the homeless about their sexual orientations. Of the 1,000 surveyed, 29 percent said they were gay, bisexual or transgender, which is about twice as high as the percentage of such residents in the city overall.

The Williams Institute, a think tank based at UCLA, estimated in 2006 that 15.4 of San Francisco’s population is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, the largest share of any city in the U.S.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the numbers indicate the city needs more specialized shelters and other services.

“What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue,” Friedenbach said. “And when we look at our system, it’s not particularly gay-friendly.”

Other advocates offered possible explanations for the large number of homeless people who identify as sexual minorities.

Young people who have been kicked out of their homes or run away from less gay-friendly communities may come to San Francisco because of its reputation as a gay hotspot, Mary Howe, executive director of the Haight Ashbury Youth Alliances, told the Chronicle.

“A lot of them just want to go somewhere where they’re more accepted,” Howe said. “Most of them leave with very little, and they make communities out of who they meet on the street.”

Dr. Margot Kushel, an associate professor of medicine at UCSF who is based at San Francisco General Hospital and studies homeless health issues, said adults in their 50s and 60s who lost their livelihoods and many close friends during the height of the AIDS epidemic also are at increased risk of homelessness.

“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.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. This is sad. These people need a place to call home.

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 1:52pm
  2. In 2013 this should not happen, ever

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 1:53pm
  3. :’(

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 2:10pm
  4. :(

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 2:12pm
  5. AND, One Third of the worlds population is LGBT as well! Never fell for that 10% BS

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 2:18pm
  6. You sir, are an idiot.

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 2:54pm
  7. 10-15% of the world population IS Openly LGBT! Plus, there’s most likely many more who aren’t out… for all we know, the population could be 30-50%…

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 2:56pm
  8. Jason, Thanks for the compliment. I agree with you that it’s more likely 30-50%. Why did you call me an idiot? Are you having a bad day? be well.

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 2:58pm
  9. this is sad..

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:01pm
  10. :(

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 4:07pm
  11. many are kids kicked out of the family :(

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 5:17pm
  12. That’s sad

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 6:15pm
  13. I’m sorry… I thought you were one of those idiots who like to think the 10-15% theory is bullshit because you actually believe it’s less than that… I apologize.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:34am
  14. Most people who make a comment like that are ignorant and like to think only 1-2% of the world is LGBT, which is stupid and ridiculous…

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:35am
  15. I read your comment wrong, I apologize.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:35am
  16. This is not the type of equality we are fighting for; just proves that no one is exempt from a bad economy, over priced housing and other social and economic issues. Don’t know about California, but in Illinois-as recently as 2011-there was no assistance available for single people without dependents and who are not disabled. No housing assistance, no medical assistance and unemployment benefits of some $240.00 a week was deemed enough to pay rent, utilities,buy health insurance and feed oneself without food stamps or the equivalent. That is sad.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 7:06am
  17. What they don’t tell you is that over seventy percent of them chose to be homeless. I lived in the San Francisco area years ago and they did a study proving that fact.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 7:16am
  18. Not surprising at all. That figure is probably the same across the country!

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:51pm