At a time when income inequality is at the highest point in the 50 years, Kamala Harris touted her plans Thursday night to address the rise in homelessness among LGBT youth –a long-standing problem in the community that has been aggravated by soaring housing costs.
“It is one of the biggest issues that we are not talking enough about,” the California senator said when asked about LGBTQ homelessness.
“And it is not just in San Francisco and New York. It’s in places like Manchester, New Hampshire.”
The California senator touted her Rent Relief Act, which would provide a tax credit for people who spend 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities. Harris has also joined forces with California Rep. Maxine Waters on her proposal aimed at ending chronic homelessness. The legislation would direct more than $13 billion toward building supportive housing over the next five years and funding more federal vouchers for Americans at risk of losing their homes.
LGBTQ advocates have pressed Democratic candidates to pay more attention to the increasing numbers of young LGBTQ people who are either on the brink of homelessness or living on the streets. Los Angeles, for example, saw a 24% jump in youth homelessness this year—and some estimate that LGBTQ youth make up as much as 40% of that total.
Here in LA, where CNN’s Equality Town Halls are taking place, the LA LGBT Center in Hollywood is taking a novel approach as part of their effort to help at-risk members of the LGBTQ community reach full employment. Earlier this year, they opened a culinary arts program in partnership with LA chefs who are teaching at-risk LGBT students — both youth and seniors — the art of French cooking.
CNN profiled one of the culinary program’s recent graduates, 25-year-old Gabriel Rondon, who identifies as trans and moved to LA from Texas because he didn’t want to conform to the culture in his small town. He found himself in a hopeless and terrifying position after he was evicted, because he couldn’t afford his rent. He found his passion in the culinary program and hopes to open his own non-profit restaurant some day—one that would serve anyone who is hungry, even if they were unable to pay.