Coming to Montreal to flourish, young LGBTQ2+ people find themselves in a situation of homelessness

Coming to Montreal to flourish, young LGBTQ2+ people find themselves in a situation of homelessness

During the pandemic, many young LGBTQ2+ people have found themselves isolated in their parental homes. Plagued by the homophobia and transphobia of their loved ones, many of them have left their environment, ending up on the street. For those from the rural world, coming to Montreal then became a solution. But the housing crisis predisposes them to precariousness.

“Everyone sees Montreal as the solution to flourish. Young people leave rural areas for urban areas, but when these people arrive here, they face housing problems,” explains Sébastien Houle, communications officer at Fondation Émergence.

With the pandemic, what we saw was that there were a lot of young people at home who were isolated […]. The most cited reason among LGBTQ2+ youth experiencing homelessness would be parental rejection, explicit or assumed.

Sébastien Houle, communications officer at Fondation Émergence

According to him, young people would later find themselves more prey to drug addiction. A vicious circle would ensue, plunging them more and more into precariousness.

“LGBTQ2+ youth remain homeless longer; these people have more difficulty coping than those who are cisgender and heterosexual homeless, since they do not use the services and the means to cope. They are afraid of discrimination,” he says.

Trans and non-binary people would stay away from services

Few precise data are available on the situation of homelessness among LGBTQ2+ youth. Various factors explain this, according to the communication officer of the Fondation Émergence, Sébastien Houle, including the fact that the questionnaires used by street workers do not ask for sexual and gender identity.

Although we do not have specific data […], all the data shows that there has been an increase, says Sébastien Houle. It shows how the pandemic has affected young LGBTQ2+ people and that it has added a heavy weight to their shoulders.

Sebastien Houle

Many LGBTQ2+ youth, especially trans and non-binary, would also not seek out support services. This situation would be due to the discrimination they may experience there. According to him, one out of three young people or young trans people would be refused access to accommodation services because of their gender identity.

This observation is shared by Marie-Noëlle L’Espérance, Director of Intervention and Clinical Programs at Dans la rue. In his opinion, two situations would contribute to the reluctance of trans, non-binary and two-spirit people. First, some places would not welcome people in transition or non-binary people. Other shelters would ask them to “position themselves” on their gender.

“The housing crisis does not help and there are few suitable resources to accommodate trans populations, among others, in a transversal way. It therefore becomes difficult to find a resource where to go to sleep,” she said.

When is a shelter for LGBTQ2+?

In Montreal, there is currently no shelter for people of sexual and gender diversity. However, the organization Jeunesse Lambda is working on the establishment of an emergency shelter for and by members of the community.

“It would be essential to have an LGBQTQ2+ shelter to allow these young people to be understood, to be able to get out of it and not to have this fear of being constantly stigmatized in traditional accommodation centers that the we know”, explains Sébastien Houle.

Marie-Noëlle L’Espérance sees two possible solutions: both services adapted by and for the community, and other services that adopt intersectionality in their approach. The Dans la rue residential center offers a room and gender-neutral accommodation for people in need.

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