Hurricane Irma Exposes Dangers of Being LGBTQ and Homeless


There was nowhere for 19-year-old Sean Chavez to go when Hurricane Harvey thundered into Houston less than two weeks ago. The homeless teenager, who is bisexual, sat on a sidewalk drenched in rain. It came down with such fury that it got into his lungs. A sick feeling grew in his stomach. He was getting cold.

“I couldn’t really breath,” Chavez told NBC News. “I was praying I could get a place to get out.” Then, he said, a car pulled over and a woman stepped out. She asked him if he had a place to go.

“I told her no, I was homeless,” he recalled. He said the woman handed him a $100 bill and told him to find a motel. He went to a nearby Motel 6, he said, and got a room. He turned on the TV and saw the news.

“There was flooding all over the place,” Chavez said, “and that day I couldn’t leave at all, because it was flooded. I was surprised it didn’t flood into the motel, too.”

A day before the storm, about 20 homeless youth arrived at Tony’s Place, a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth. There, they picked up survival kits, according to Al Amado, a homeless youth advocate who operates the center. He said the kits contained rain ponchos, a small flashlight, little sandwiches in plastic bags and granola bars. They also contained a list of nearby hurricane shelters. But Amado worried the majority did not go to the shelters for fear of how they might be treated.

Source:  NBC News

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