ATLANTA — Homelessness among LGBTQ youth is a growing issue in the metro area.
Lost-n-Found Youth, is working to tackle the issues that homeless LGBTQ youth face head-on. The organization was founded eight years ago to address a need for an LGBTQ youth shelter and support center in Atlanta.
Lost-n-Found recently opened a new youth center in partnership with Park Avenue Baptist Church in Grant Park, occupying the second floor of the church’s building.
“We’re in the Bible belt and we’re serving LGBT kids. Many of them had the experience of coming out to their parents and their families and ended up on the streets,” Lost-n-Found’s Co-Director of Operations Nasheeda Bynes-Muhammad said.
The facility features bunk beds, showers, a library and other support services including case management and mental health counseling.
A recent Georgia State University study found that there are more than 3,000 youth ages 14-26 experiencing homelessness and nearly a quarter of those youth identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Homeless LGBTQ youth also have a significantly higher risk of experiencing human trafficking than their straight peers.
"Up to five percent of the population is estimated to be LGBT, but LGBT youth represent about 40 percent of the youth who are homeless in the US. That's a staggering statistic," Bynes-Muhammad said.
One of Lost-n-Found’s youth was kicked out of her Savannah home and came to Atlanta in hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
She said Lost-n-Found changed her life.
“I don’t feel so alone in everything that I do. I’m used to having to figure out things by myself, but here I don’t have to.”
Rev. Lindsey Huggins works at Park Avenue Baptist Church. She said this partnership is part of the church’s call to serve and love others.
“To be able to house and serve our LGBTQ siblings is to us the call that we have to love, serve, and create an ever-expanding picture of what the kingdom of God looks like,” she said.
Lost-n-Found told 11Alive that they provided aid to more than 1,000 homeless youth, serving 17,000 meals and providing more than 2,600 nights in warm beds in addition to a thrift store that provides free clothing to its homeless and at-risk clients.
The organization serves youth ages 18-26.
Lost-n-Found Youth is still in the process of moving into their new space at Park Avenue Baptist Church and will be hosting an open house for the public next week.
Leadership told 11Alive that they are always looking for volunteers.
To contact Lost-n-Found youth for support services, call or text 678-856-7825.
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