COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Kaleidoscope Youth Center has been around for more than 20 years, working toward providing a safer place, programming, and leadership opportunities for people.
Now, it is working to provide housing only for their LGBTQ+ community.
Erin Upchurch with Kaleidoscope Youth Center said it took two years to make this vision come to life. Though Kaleidoscope always had partners to provide housing for people, it saw that it wasn’t enough to support the center’s members.
“I know we have a shelter system, but it’s not meant for young people,” Upchurch said. “Then we add people who are trans or non-binary, exploring their sexual orientation, that’s not an ideal place for any of that to open.”
Upchurch said research is showing close to 7,000 young people are homeless or at-risk for homelessness, and this is only in central Ohio.
“What we know nationally is LGBTQ+ youth and young adults represent about 40 percent of that entire population,” Upchurch said. “What is challenging is that sometimes they don’t meet the definition of homelessness. They’re not necessarily living in the streets, they’re couch surfing, and they’re putting themselves for survival that is not always safe.”
The co-housing program is a duplex. They can have up to 4 people on each side, but due to COVID-19, they are only doing single rooms to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone healthy.
“Our housing program is for ages 18-24,” Upchurch said.
The program will not only be focusing on providing a roof over their heads, but they will help them in other ways too.
“All of our young folks are connected to a case manager which is a licensed social worker,” Upchurch said. “A lot of our young people don’t have their natural family support in that 18–24-year-old that many of us did.”
The program will also teach them how to manage their finances, address nutrition, help with school and other barriers they may be facing.
“Some of them haven’t even graduated high school because of their circumstances,” Upchurch said. “It’s hard to go to school and be homeless and not know where you’re sleeping at night; some of them do it, but we want better for our young people.”
As of now, they have three people living in the duplex, and they are looking for three more individuals to live there.
If you know anyone who wants to apply visit the program’s website.