On Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, I volunteered at Trinity Place Shelter on 97th and Amsterdam. The shelter serves LGBTQ homeless youth. A group of students and I painted and cleaned the shelter. We also got to learn about the demographics of LGBTQ homeless youth, which I was unfamiliar with. It was interesting to think about how youth does not necessarily mean teenagers–it usually focuses on an age group from about 18-22. Many LGBTQ Youth become homeless because of their transition to the city from more rural areas. The city is extremely expensive, thus the switch from whatever area they are living in is difficult. It was also interesting to get more of a visual of homeless shelters. In many discussions in and out of school, I have found that students casually throw around the word “shelter” as a place for those who do not have housing to immediately go to. Trinity, along with many other shelters, is merely a night stay–people can only live there from about 9 pm to 7 am. Similarly, it can only hold about 15-20 people. While this is a large help, it is a rather small amount in comparison to the thousands who remain without a home. I came out curious how we could change housing policies in the city, as well as how we could increase the capacity of certain homeless shelters in New York.
Here is a photo of me painting one of the columns at Trinity Place Shelter: