As the recent example of Rodney Davis showed, life on the streets of Chicago is a difficult and often demoralizing challenge for any person to endure. And that challenge can be further compounded for those homeless individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
As publications like the New Yorker, the Chicago Reader and Windy City Times have explored in recent months, LGBTQ homeless youth often face unique challenges in their attempts to access safe and affirming services to help them not only survive, but to thrive.
Based on advocates' most recent estimates, Chicago is home to over 105,000 homeless people, a significant percentage of which -- according to recent studies -- likely identify as LGBT. Up to 40 percent of homeless youth overall are estimated to identify as LGBTQ.
Seeing a need for additional housing resources targeted toward LGBTQ young people in Chicago, a group of youth service providers, housing advocates and social workers have come together to form Project Fierce Chicago.
Project Fierce is currently working to raise $10,000 via Indiegogo toward filing as a 501(c)3 organization and making a downpayment on a foreclosed building on either the city's South or West Side where they hope to offer transitional housing and support services to LGBTQ youth.
As of Thursday, they have raised nearly $7,500, but they still have a ways to go toward turning their vision into a reality -- with just four days remaining in the campaign.
Cassandra Avenatti, a co-founder of the group, told HuffPost the response to their funding push has been "amazing." She believes the community is understanding the need for safe and stable housing as "incredibly fundamental."
Further, the need for the group to achieve their goal outside of a non-profit institutional setting connected to government funding is important to the collective.
"We're doing this all ourselves, coming together with whatever resources we can," Avenatti said. "We're going to do it the way we want to do, according to our values, in a way that we feel will be really supportive, affirming and loving."
WATCH Project Fierce Chicago's Indiegogo campaign video:
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Photo by davco9200 via Flickr.
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