A new emergency fund to help homeless LGBTQI young people in Perth has been launched by prominent LGBTQI and homelessness advocates.
The Perth Inner City Youth Homeless services ‘Pride Assist Fund’ is set to provide financial support to the Perth Inner City Youth Homeless Services (PICYS), with funds allocated to supporting young LGBTQI people under the age of 26 who are experiencing homelessness amid the domestic economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Western Australia’s LGBTQI arts and culture organisation, Pride WA also supports the initiative.
“This fund is vital, and Pride WA will support the community in any way that we can. So far, we have firm commitments over $1000, which shows how our community can come together in a time of need,” the Pride WA committee said.
PICYS currently provides support to at least 20 young members of the LGBTQI community experiencing homelessness, with Pride WA hoping the Pride Assist Fund will raise at least $10,000 from community members, to help community members.
Those in a position to make financial donations are encouraged to do so here.
The CEO of PICYS, Andrew Hall, told Star Observer that these funds would be used to help LGBTQI people, particularly transgender and gender diverse young people, to regain control and begin working towards a better “quality of life.”
“A person is a person, and quality of life is a quality of life for any person,” he said.
“If some people experience more discrimination, more stigma, more mental health concerns, or disadvantages such as not being able to get a tenancy because of their identity, that’s discrimination, and it needs to be stamped out. That’s what this money is for.
“Right now, we want to bring people to a much more stable place much more quickly. This Pride Assist Fund allows us to have money to help people pay a bond and get into a house quicker.
“We help people with name changes and birth certificate processing. There are specific things that we can do to help young people in the LGBTQI to enjoy their lives as they deserve.”
Recent studies show that young people who identify as gender or sexually diverse are at least twice as likely to experience homelessness than their heterosexual peers, as well as more likely to experience homelessness at a younger age.
Half of all young people accessing PICYS services identify as LGBTQI, while thirty-three per cent of that group identify as transgender or gender diverse (TGD).
This disparity in those seeking PICYS services, which has only been compounded further amid the COVID-19 pandemic, means that much of the funding must be tailored specifically to an individual’s needs.
Community advocate, Paul van Lieshout Hunt confirmed with Star Observer that LGBTQI people make up an unsurprisingly large number of young people in WA affected by homelessness.
“One of the major issues with homelessness is that it’s a systemic issue that comes with an array of challenges and problems. Every individual’s needs are different for young people, so it’s difficult,” he said.
“Their needs are as individual as they are. At the end of the day, this fund will be used to support as many people as possible in any way we can during this crisis, be it medical or through the housing.”
Pride WA and PICYS are also working with local community heroes, Jane Armstrong and her partner, Sim Gjergjevica to deliver weekly and fortnightly meal packages to young LGBTQI people who are struggling financially through the Homelessness ‘We Care Project’.
PICYS has currently raised just over $3,000 to care for more young LGBTQI people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic – but it simply isn’t enough.
We at Star Observer urge anyone who’s in a position to do so to donate, so PICYS can continue doing their fantastic work for our community on the Western Coast.