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Group working to establish a home for LGBT youth | News

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Group working to establish a home for LGBT youth

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KTHV) - It's an issue that's rarely talked about and a problem many people don't even know exists: homelessness in the gay community.

The shelter, called Lucie's Place is named after a young transgender woman from Arkansas who died in 2009. It will provide a safe place for LGBT young adults.

They're one of central Arkansas most vulnerable groups, but one of the most forgotten.

For several years, Penelope Poppers has been working to open Lucie's Place after an eye-opening experience.

"I fed folks every Sunday under the Broadway Street Bridge and through that is when I started seeing that a lot of people once I got to know them we're telling me that I'm either lesbian, gay or bisexual or transgender."

Poppers said it's a transitional shelter for homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

"A lot of the youth that we work with they've never in the entire life talked to anybody who's been accepting of there either sexual orientation or gender identity."

Many of them, Poppers said, have been turned away by relatives and other shelters.

"It's really hard living in a place not being able to talk about something that feels so personal about who you are."

Currently, Lucie's Place is able to offer free counseling to LGBTs, but Poppers said a permanent location is hopefully less than a year away.

"We have the money right now to open and pay our down payment and all that, but we don't have 3 years and the program has to be sustainable, because we can't kick them back out again after bringing them in."

Lucie's place will be a long-term shelter helping 8 youth at a time.

Poppers fears that if they don't address the issue no one will.

"Now that we've gone this far and we've seen the numbers and we've seen the youth we just can't stop at this point," said Poppers.

Poppers says the shelter will more than likely be located downtown and have modeled the plan off of similar shelters in larger cities.