By: Andre Perez
A local group of LGBTQ social workers and youth advocates are on a mission to address LGBTQ youth homelessness through a grassroots, community-funded campaign. Project Fierce Chicago intends to purchase a CTA-accessible, foreclosed home on the South or West side, fix it up, and open the doors to LGBTQ youth as a place to live communally and access supportive services.
In an environment of intensifying government austerity, homelessness is on the rise and the gap between government funding and community need is wider than ever. LGBTQ youth, many of whom have been kicked out of their family’s homes, make up an estimated 30-40% of the approximately 15,000 homeless youth in Chicago. Cassandra Avenatti, who conceived of PFC and has been researching the idea for over a year says, “We don’t want to wait for government funders to determine that queer youth homelessness is an urgent issue. Young people in our community are profoundly aware of the need for additional resources, and if we work collaboratively to use the resources and skills in our communities, we can provide one.”
PFC is raising $10,000 from the broader community to pay for a down payment on a building. The project is operated by a collective that contributes money towards the cost of the space. Once opened, PFC’s community house will be sustained primarily through in-kind donations and funding from private donors and collective members.
In addition to providing shelter and employment training, PFC’s volunteers will teach youth sustainable practices like gardening and making household items such as soap. Jackie Boyd says, “In environments where our queer and queer youth of color are not valued or seen, the ability to sustain oneself can mean the difference between surviving and thriving. One of the goals of Project Fierce Chicago is to provide youth the opportunity to garner skills to sustain themselves for the long-term.”
Readers can support PFC by donating on their Indiegogo page, liking them on Facebook, or contacting them directly about volunteering at ProjectFierceChicago@gmail.com. PFC will conclude its fundraising campaign on Sunday May 5th.