This episode is from Young, Unhoused and Unseen, a podcast production from WHYY News and Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting.
Facing higher rates of anxiety, depression, and early death, unhoused LGBTQ+ youth, who are often thrown out of their homes by unaccepting parents, face many challenges. In episode four of the “Young, Unhoused and Unseen” podcast, WHYY News and Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting report on unsheltered youth and LGBTQ+ experiences.
While there are a few LGBTQ+-focused housing programs in Philadelphia, the Ark of Safety is the only shelter exclusively for that community.
Founded by Tatyana Woodard in 2022, the Ark of Safety has been offering emergency and rapid rehousing with a focus on trans-identifying individuals — specifically trans women of color. Eight of her 21 residents are youth or young adults.
“I am a Black, proud trans woman. It was very important for me to open this space from being someone who experienced homelessness and housing insecurity at the age of 16. This has always been what I feel like is my life’s journey and passion. And not until a year ago when this place opened did I begin to understand the hardships of my journey getting here. So I like to think about this as my purpose for being on this Earth,” Woodard said.
Located in a North Philadelphia storefront — just a few blocks away from Forget Me Knot Children & Youth Services, the Ark of Safety is home to LGBTQ+ residents from all walks of life aged 15 to 67.
In this episode, we hear from Woodard and a pair of young residents as they navigate through past traumas in an attempt to create an accepting space.
According to the Trevor Project, 28 percent of LGBTQ+ youth experience some form of homelessness or housing insecurity.
In Philadelphia, LGBTQ+ youth represent about 25-40% of the young people experiencing homelessness, meaning the group is overrepresented in the city’s unhoused population.
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