For queer youth like Jay, Host Homes changes everything
When I was going through one of the hardest times in my life, dealing with unstable housing, depression, and unemployment, I found the SF LGBT Center and everything changed. As a queer young person living with a host family through the Center’s Host Homes program, I’ve been able to access mental health resources, find employment, and—perhaps most importantly—come home each day to a stable and welcoming home.
When I walked through the front doors of the Center one Tuesday last year, I had no idea the enormous impact the Center would have on my life. At the time, I had been going through an incredibly difficult period: I had lost my job, was in a rocky relationship, didn’t have stable housing, and was dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts which resulted in being hospitalized. I had complicated and difficult relationships with my family members, who all lived far away, and I had no one I could turn to. I needed help.
I initially visited the Center to find services to help meet my basic needs. I first found mental health services, meals, and employment counseling. Soon, I learned about the Host Homes program where LGBTQ+ youth without stable housing, like me, are paired with community hosts who have space to welcome a young person into their home for a temporary period, and are closely supported by Center staff through a variety of support services.
Shortly after entering the program, I was matched with my hosts Adam and Decima. I was worried I’d have to hide my authentic self, but Adam and Decima welcomed me with open hearts. We worked together with Center staff members Karessa and Corey to build a foundation for an honest, realistic, and mutually beneficial living situation.
Since living with my host family for the past eight months, we’ve learned so much from one another. I’ve formed positive relationships with my hosts and learned about each other’s perspectives, personality differences, and love languages. I’ve become particularly close with Adam and Decima’s three young kids—we read together, play in the backyard, and I’ve even taught the oldest to skateboard. Being around them brings out my best self.
Now, I have a place where I feel at home with people I’m close to. From family dinners to knowing what day trash goes out, the little things remind me of the gifts that Host Homes has given me: stability, positive relationships, and the opportunity to work on myself. I had no idea that my life would be changed so dramatically by Host Homes.
I know how hard it can be as a young queer person to deal with anything else when basic needs, like housing, are unmet or unstable. In San Francisco, almost half of youth who are homeless or in unstable housing are LGBTQ+. Everyone deserves to have their fundamental needs met so that we can move beyond survival and actually begin to thrive.
While I continue living with my host family, I’m completing a machining metalwork course with job placement afterward, which my Center case manager connected me to, and I’ve been able to work toward my goals of achieving financial stability and saving up for gender-affirming surgery. After I leave Host Homes, with the support of the Center, I plan to move on to permanent housing.
Host Homes changed everything for me. I’m on a path now toward becoming the best version of myself, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Host Homes Program Participant