COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An organization known for helping LGBT+ youth in central Ohio find a sense of security and community is now helping at-risk youth find housing.

“We know housing is a basic need and a basic right,” Erin Upchurch, executive director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center, said. “We also know our young folks are 120% more likely to be homeless than their peers and, of the entire homeless community, our young people represent about 40%.”

The numbers of homeless youth, particularly those who identify as LGBT+, are staggering and the need is real.

“We want our young folks to be able to be housed and feel safe and secure so they can actually thrive in their lives,” Upchurch said.

Housing program manager Heather Wise said access to a safe place to live is crucial.

“It makes all the difference, a lot of times the difference between life and death,” she said.

That difference is something 20-year-old Waverly Evans, a resident of Kaleidoscope’s housing program, knows all too well.

“It’s been a tremendous impact for me,” Evans said. “I was homeless for about nine months from August to the beginning of May.

Kaleidoscope helped Evans when she was a teen and now they’re helping her as an adult with one of their three housing programs.

“I just feel really grateful and I’m appreciative of all Kaleidoscope has given me,” she said. “And I feel like Kaleidoscope was there to save me again.”

Kaleidoscope is hosting an open house for the community this Saturday form 2 to 5pm. For more information, visit