Over One Quarter Of San Francisco’s Homeless Identify As LGBT

For the first time ever, the San Francisco Human Services Agency surveyed a sample of the city's homeless population about their sexual orientation and the results are startling. Of the 1,000 surveyed, 29 percent said they were gay, bisexual or transgender, which is about twice as high as the percentage of the residents in the city overall. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

SfThe numbers suggest that more effort may need to go toward providing special services – such as beds set aside for LGBT people in shelters or social workers with special training in LGBT issues – to get gay people off the street and into temporary, and eventually permanent, housing, homeless advocates said.

"It's great to finally have these numbers. What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue," said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness. "And when we look at our system, it's not particularly gay-friendly."

She's talked to gay and lesbian people who experienced homophobia in homeless shelters, and she said that transgender people staying in shelters experience abuse at "three times the rate" of straight people.

Friedenbach noted that the city is hoping to provide 24 new shelter beds set aside for LGBT people this year. 


  1. Matt26 says

    There is a new document by Susanna Helke called American Vagabond, which tells a story of two young gay men living in SF in GG park, where so many young gay men are living, when parents have kicked them out (in other parts of US). The dream and reality don’t meet.
    The document has got very good reviews.

  2. Truth says

    While no doubt there are LGBT members among the homeless in SF, this report is clearly another example of activists trying to shanghai LGBT issues in advance of Pride. Aside from some queer youth in the Castro, the portait of gay runaways is not an accurate one of the majority homeless in the rest of SF. In fact, the homeless of South of Market are not LGBT or even LGBT-friendly and everyone knows once you refuse their panhandling and they shout slurs. The homeless in the city are mostly mentality ill, and/or drunks or drug addicts. I will agree that they’re mostly from someplace else. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc. and SF residents end up caring for/dealing with them.

  3. Francis #1 says

    Look, ultimately, yes, there are homophobic homeless in SF, who are not from the area (don’t live in SF but been there enough to know what’s up), but the fact of the matter is, according to this study, 30% of homeless in SF are LGBT and the numbers are probably even higher than that taking into account those who would not actually out themselves although they are not straight.

    A lot of these homeless in SF are in fact LGBT folk from other parts of California and other states and also other countries, and they flee to San Francisco because of it’s reputation as basically the gay mecca of the world, or at least one of the gay meccas. This is an issue that has to be addressed and I’m glad it is.

  4. David Hearne says

    As a rule, when you have little or no money it’s not a good idea to live where it’s cold and/or expensive. This is why Florida is a magnet for poor and/or dysfunctional people from all over the East.

  5. Truth says

    Ok Francis, let;s you and me take a tour of MY neighborhood, SoMa (SF’s largest neighborhood) and then you tell me how many of these homeless are gay (and I can;t wait to watch you ask them). This study is simply homelessness advocate BS designed to get publicity around Pride…..it’s is NOT the reality of the homeless in SF. Yet guess, what, their PR worked?!?!

  6. Zeta says

    Should have moved to Atlanta.

    Also, the city should not have removed all the affordable income housing which used to be occupied by middle-income families — even if those homes were occupied by people of color instead of whites.

  7. ratbastard says

    What ‘truth’ and others have said. And this is true here in Boston, too.

    We have a big problem regarding people who need social services, mental health services, and drug/alcohol services being basically dumped in big cities, even to the point they are sometimes given one way bus tickets by jurisdictions who don’t want to deal with their social problems and the $. It’s insane. Here on the east coast hardcore homeless folks travel from city to city, up and down the coast, D.C., Baltimore,Philly,NYC, Boston, etc. Then there’s the travelling crusties, druggies, etc. And in the Boston area we get folks who come down from mostly rural northern New England [Maine, N.H., Vermont], or from the rural western part of MA. I’m not hating on anybody, and don’t blame people in need for going to the places where services and help are more readily available. But it is a big problem and cost big $.

  8. ratbastard says

    Another problem is:

    Subsidized ‘low income’ housing, including things such as as section 8, combined with the extremely high cost of building anything [at least in my area, Boston] has exacerbated the homeless problem, not helped reduce or solve it. Most new residential construction is high end [partly because like I said it’s so expensive to build here after all the municipal and state demands, let alone federal] with a few ‘affordable’ units added to satisfy city hall, who can then claim they are building ‘affordable’ units. Problem is those ‘affordable’ units only go to people who are allegedly in the most dire circumstances, i.e. dirt poor. Most people with housing problems don’t fall into this category, they make or have a little more than than the legal requirements for being considered ‘poor’ but still realistically not enough to exist except maybe paycheck to paycheck. And landlords LOVE things like section 8, and will gladly wait to rent to a ‘poor; person with a section 8 voucher [because to the landlord it’s guaranteed income, guaranteed by the federal government,] rather than rent to a non section 8 ‘poor’ person, i.e. a ‘working class’ renter. It’s so-called working class and low middle class people who are getting squeezed out.

  9. David Hearne says

    I remeber a stat from years ago that something like 7 of 10 prisoners released from San Quentin head for The Tenderloin.