The Dallas Hope Center is a small one bedroom apartment in a neighborhood setting. It's the first LGBTQ focused homeless shelter in Dallas.
"We need to do something," said Jason Vallejo, Executive Director of Dallas Hope Charities, the outreach arm of the Cathedral of Hope. "How can we help these kids know they are loved just as they are?"
Planning began a year ago at the Cathedral of Hope, after a homeless count of 200 youth on the streets of Dallas showed 25 percent identified as LGBTQ. 13 percent didn't feel comfortable answering the question.
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"Some of these kids don't have that firm foundation," explained Vallejo. "And so when people they look to for love and guidance tell you, we don't want to have anything to do with you and neither does God, they have no other place to go."
Studies show LGBTQ youth and young adults are 120 percent more likely to be homeless than their heterosexual counterparts. Suicide rates are higher among LGBTQ youth as well.
Vallejo said in homeless shelters, LGBTQ youth can face some of the same acceptance issues they do at home. "So that can be scary for them. So they just stay out on the street," Vallejo said. "We just want to give back some hope."
The long-term goal of Dallas Hope Charities is to open an emergency shelter focused on the LGBTQ population, and buy a house to allow for more transitional housing for young and elderly LGBTQ facing homelessness.
They hope to move the first residents into the Dallas Hope Center this week.