The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) released its biennial homeless count on Friday and responses to a newly included question have shed light on one of the city's most vulnerable populations.
For the first time in the survey's history, the HSA asked respondents to identify their sexual orientation. Of the 1,000 participants, nearly one-third identified as LGBTQ.
While earlier studies have estimated a high LGBTQ homeless population in the city, the HSA count results have surprised even experts in the field.
"It's great to finally have these numbers," said Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach to the San Francisco Chronicle. "What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue."
According to Mary Howe, executive director of the Haight Ashbury Youth Alliance, the issue is particularly pressing amongst homeless youth, who make up about 14 percent of the total homeless population.
Howe told the Chronicle that up to half of the homeless young people she sees are gay--many of whom have been kicked out of their homes after coming out to their families.
"A lot of them just want to go somewhere where they're more accepted," she told the Chronicle. "Most of them leave with very little, and they make communities out of who they meet on the street."
According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youths are LGBTQ.
"We've won battles for gay marriage and gays in the military," said Carl Siciliano in an interview with The Huffington Post. Siciliano is the founder and executive director of the New York-based Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization for LGBT youth. "This is the next frontier, the next battle: helping these youths."
For more on San Francisco's homeless population, read the homeless count on sfgov.org.