Damien Center expands outreach to LGBTQ youth

In addition to being Indiana’s oldest and largest AIDS service organization, The Damien Center is also now one of the agencies focusing on the issue of LGBTQ homeless youth.

Recently, The Damien Center and its community partners released Deep Divides, a report that highlights the results of a COVID-19 impact survey of Central Indiana’s LGBTQ+ community. The community-wide assessment was conducted between October and December 2020 among LGBTQ+ community members living in and
around Marion County. The report highlights how the multi-layered challenges caused by the pandemic are disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ communities.

When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had changed their lives, four key areas of concern emerged: Mental Health, Physical Health, Economic Stability, and Social Connections.

“The findings show a significantly greater decline in wellbeing when compared to responses from cisgender heterosexual individuals in these same areas,“ explained Alan Witchey, president and CEO of Damien Center. “The LGBTQ+ population has historically faced significant health disparities, making these negative effects on the mental health and wellbeing even more devastating.”

But the problem of high rate of homelessness amongst LGBTQ+ youth has existed before, during, and likely after the pandemic.

WISH TV reported the Damien Center was applying a $3.88 million grant from The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development towards addressing youth and youth adult homelessness.

“It’s important to amplify the stories so that everyone’s story gets told — not just the pictures that are easy to swallow,” Jaime Reynolds of the Damien Center told the outlet. So far, the organization’s portion of the funding has helped place 30 young people in stable housing.

“LGBTQ people, they deserve a voice, they deserve to have their stories told so we can adjust the barriers they’re facing every day,” Reynolds said.

About Damien Center

Damien Center is Indiana’s oldest and largest AIDS service organization and leads the effort to prevent the spread of HIV. The Center opened in 1987 and offers a one-stop-shop model of care that includes preventive, supportive, and medical services
that empowers people in Central Indiana affected by HIV/AIDS to move forward each day with dignity so they may live abundant and productive lives. Damien Center believes passionately in the dignity and worth of every person who seeks their
services and strives to be a safe and welcoming place so that no barriers separate people from the services they need to prolong and enhance their lives. Follow them on Twitter at @DamienCenter or like them on Facebook.

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