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Homeless LGBTQ youth find new homes in Calgary

WATCH: The Calgary Homeless Foundation is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club to provide homes for Calgary’s young LGBTQ community of the streets. Jill Croteau reports.

CALGARY – Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary has developed a new program to assist youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual and queer (LGBTQ) at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Starting today, Aura Host Homes will match the youth with approved host parents. It will also give assistance from a support worker, natural supports and other resources to help transition into adult independence. “It is about making the youth feel they are valuable, included and respected,” said Diana Krescy, president of Calgary Homeless Foundation.

Brett Mason, executive officer at Calgary Outlink, said a lot of LGBTQ youth are not going to shelters because of an intense level of fear. “Almost half of the youth that come through our doors have experienced homelessness at one point or another,” Mason said.

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LGBTQ have been reported to represent up to 40 per cent of homeless youth population, over four times more than the adult population. Aura Host Homes, the first program in its kind, will serve 16 youth identifying as LGBTQ aged between 14 and 24.

Aura Host Homes is aligned with the province’s Youth Plan, which supports youth to return home, providing alternative housing options to those in need. The program will receive funding of $254,000 and will be run by Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary. “This program is a great example of the work we are doing with our community partners to reduce youth homelessness,” said Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir.

Youth up to 24 years experience homelessness in not so visible ways. Instead of the streets, they are more likely to forms of homelessness like couch surfing. “We all have a role to play in ending youth homelessness in Calgary, and we are calling on the community to join us by opening their homes to support LGBTQ youth,” said Kim Wirth, director of Youth Housing and Shelter at Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary.