INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Access to housing and employment remain key problems in the LGBTQ community despite federal legislation that broadened protections.
Two local organizations are recognizing milestones in their work to improve the odds.
In a year, Project Prism, the city’s largest rapid LGBTQ youth housing program has served more than 60 people.
Over the past few years, Indy Pride’s annual career fair has helped people become gainfully employed.
While these efforts show progress, organizers said, so much more can be done.
Data shows about 40% of the state homeless youth identify as LGTBQ, according to Chris Paulsen, chief executive officer of Indiana Youth Group.
Indiana Youth Group oversees Project Prism. It’s the state’s largest rapid LGBTQ youth rehousing organization and one of the agencies receiving federal funds to improve housing outcomes for youth.
“There is gradual more support, and people realizing that LGBTQ people are just people and they deserve support,” Paulsen said.
The youths in the program are placed in apartments based on their needs. Paulsen said the housing issues don’t stand alone. Many can’t find a home because they don’t have jobs, and many can’t find jobs because they don’t have homes.
“Youth and young people, they experience job insecurity at a much higher rate than cisgender heterosexual people,” Paulsen said. “So, that also contributes to them being homeless.”
Four years ago, Indy Pride started holding LGBTQ career fairs and bringing in companies with track records of providing inclusive workspaces for LGBTQ workers because, before 2020, there were no federal workplace protections.
“Now that those federal protections are in place, it’s awesome for us to be able to showcase the employers that have already done their work and are continuing to go the extra mile to create inclusive work spaces, ” said Tiffany Hansen of Indy Pride.
Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had gender protections, it wasn’t until June 2020 that sexual orientation and gender identity were included.
“It’s really important that the federal government mandates this on a national level so that there’s not nearly as much confusion among folks between state to state,” Hansen said.
Indiana Youth Group is holding an open house to recognize Project Prisms’ first completed year.
As for the job fair, there is till time to register for the free virtual fair scheduled for Wednesday.