National Library of New Zealand
Harvested by the National Library of New Zealand on: Nov 9 2016 at 17:09:45 GMT
Search boxes and external links may not function. Having trouble viewing this page? Click here
Close Minimize Help
Wayback Machine
GayNZ Logo & Link
Thursday 10 November 2016

Youth Service Submission to Homelessness Inquiry

Posted in: Our Communities
By - 6th September 2016

Kassie Hartendorp spoke on behalf of Evolve Youth Service at yesterday's Homelessness Inquiry in Wellington and highlighted the issues faced by LGBTI homeless youth. Here's the submission she presented to the Cross-Party Panel.


What we are seeing:

We see a high proportion of particularly transgender and gender diverse young people accessing our services.

We are also seeing ‘general’ homelessness as well and the overlap in between.

Young people (especially transgender and gender diverse) are coming out at early ages – in a way that is unprecedented, possibly due to growing trans visibility.

Research shows same sex attracted young people are coming out in higher numbers, but are not necessarily coming out to safe environments.

When we think about housing and homelessness as a service – we are talking about stable housing that is physically, emotionally and spiritually safe – not just a roof over one’s head.

I want to provide a picture of what we are seeing as a service:
We see young people who are too afraid to come out at home, because they already see the environment as openly unaccepting to their gender or sexuality, they don’t know if home is accepting, or are fearful of their family’s reactions. Through my work, I consider the period between knowing that you are sexuality or gender diverse to telling those around you, as one of the most vulnerable times.

We see young people who have faced family rejection when they do come out, and have had to seek alternative housing because home has not become a viable or safe place to live. Many of these young people are under 18. Often they are taken in by friends or the families of friends as there are no other safe services known.

We see a huge number who live in precarious, transitory housing situations. Some have travelled from another part of the country, to live in what is perceived as a more accepting urban setting. These young people are often low income and in rental or boarding situations. The rental market is not any easy place for anyone who does not fit into a ‘normative’ body type, physical appearance or lifestyle. For example, people who are visibly transgender face difficulties in finding rentals, and this can be even harder if they are non-Pākehā, from low income backgrounds or have a disability. In a highly competitive rental market, they can find that they are at the bottom of the list of prospective tenants. Once they do find a flat, it is not uncommon to come up against transphobic landlords, flatmates, or any number of issues that can go hand in hand with low income and low quality rentals. Many of these clients may have physical housing – but it is not stable or safe, to the point that they may spend most of their time couch surfing with other people. Many cannot afford to consider moving into more suitable housing.

A key issue is the overlapping and intersections of mental health with transgender and gender diverse clients. Mental health can be strongly affected by minority stress with self harm, depression, alcohol abuse and suicidality already overrepresented among LGBTIQ young people. It is not uncommon for this to contribute to many social areas, including housing. Services currently struggle to work through the nuance of mental health and gender identity.
We also see a layer of young people who experience homelessness who have come from violent or unstable home lives to begin with. Many stay with extended family, have been through CYFS care, or have had transitional housing for a number of years. Gender/sexuality may or may not present as one of their central needs, but can still have an ongoing impact. These young people often become disenfranchised from supportive systems from an early age, which is very hard to address at a later date.

What we are doing:

Evolve is based on a youth development approach, that prioritises accessibility to low income and marginalised groups. We offer free healthcare in the form of nurses, doctors and counsellors as well as social support via youth workers.

Over the past few years, Evolve has had a focus on providing quality care for sexuality and gender diverse young people. We build quality relationships based on good information, that aim to be preventative, rather than just a place of crisis and intervention. We have worked with the Anglican Diocese to provide a youth night shelter in the church because there were no other options for young people – however this does not work for all rainbow young people who may have negative relationships with the church (even though such places are accepting).

The barriers we face:

The complexity around youth housing concerns – understanding that there is a spectrum of homelessness, and how young people we see often live at the point of unstable and precarious housing.

Young people report that their gender and/or sexuality is not taken seriously by services. A lack of training, and support for services exists across sectors in this area.

A lack of safe, affordable emergency or transitional housing. There are very few options that really work for young people even in Wellington, for anyone who is homeless across the board, and even less so for sexuality and gender diverse people.

The entire rental market is a barrier – overpriced, under quality housing that is difficult for any young person, and particularly this group.
We also don’t have clear ways of finding out more about this group, and a lack of research in this area.

- 6th September 2016

   Bookmark and Share