Grant Site Update: Trinity Haven Provides Safe Housing for LGBTQ Youth, Diocese of Indianapolis
By Leigh Ann Hirschman, parishioner, Trinity Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, and founding board chair, Trinity Haven
Cold. Hungry. Alone. Rejected, just for who they are. Did you know that 40 percent of homeless young people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender? Sixty-eight percent of these youth say that family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity is a major cause of their homelessness. In Indiana, a state that was ranked in the lowest category for LGBTQ equality by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ homeless youth are often too frightened to enter shelters. Instead, they choose to sleep in doorways or park benches. Yet in the entire state of Indiana, there is not a single facility dedicated to the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. But there is good news.
On May 1, in the heart of Indianapolis, Trinity Haven opened its doors the first safe and welcoming transitional home for LGBTQ young people in the state. And we wouldn’t be here today without the support of the United Thank Offering. The UTO’s generous grant funded our Furnishings Project, which provides our young residents with physical necessities such as clean and warm beds, study desks, and a dining table where they and staff can break bread together. Because of you, our residents can step into Trinity Haven and immediately know they are home.
Trinity Haven’s radical hospitality was born within the church. In 2016, Trinity Episcopal Church, a 100-year-old Indianapolis parish with a long history of incubating successful not-for-profits, learned that LGBTQ youth homelessness is an invisible crisis in our city. We resolved to act. We recruited experts in LGBTQ youth, homelessness services, program development, strategic planning, operations, and fundraising. When our first location was opposed by neighbors, Episcopal institutions across the city rallied behind us—and we secured a larger, better house. Now Trinity Haven is a cooperating ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis with a diverse, professional staff whose members reflect the youth they serve.
As Episcopalians, we are called to respect the dignity of every living being. That is why Trinity Haven offers much more than shelter. Trinity Haven is a youth-centered wrap-around program that fosters family reunification (when safe); helps residents learn from one another; and supports young people as they identify their goals and forge their unique paths to independence. If you or your parish would like to support Trinity Haven’s mission, please click here. Together, we can make sure that no LGBTQ youth has to sleep on a park bench ever again.