‘The need was there’: Amber House is Jacksonville’s 1st safe house for LGBTQ+ homeless youth

Did you know that LGBTQ+ youth have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ youth?

Amber House was built to help combat these high numbers and create a safe space for individuals in Duval County.

The Duval County home is Jacksonville’s first safe house for LGBTQ+ homeless youth, catering to those ages 17 to 24. The nonprofit will hold its grand opening on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The brand-new, three-bedroom, two-bath home was built in March. Residents will be chosen on a referral basis, with residents coming from JASMYN and other nonprofits.

Kamren Stowers, founder of the Amber House, told News4JAX he provides housing for different communities in the area, such as formerly incarcerated individuals and teens who have aged out of foster care. Stowers said it felt like he was missing a community.

“I started to do my research on the queer community within Jacksonville and realized that no one is talking about the need for housing within the queer community,” Stowers said. “So, I attended a few meetings with JASMYN … and I knew the need was there and that I had to help out as much as I could.”

“Forty to 60% of the homeless population identify within the LGBTQ+ community — and no one’s talking about it,” Stowers said. “That’s a high percentage, so we are looking to help out as much as we can.”

Studies show that LGBT youth who run away and experience homelessness are at high risk for certain negative experiences and outcomes. Stowers said giving someone a clean and safe space to live can make a big difference.

“We came up with a name Amber House — the name Amber means light, brightness, and safety, and I figure if you come from a very dark place, you step into something that is very vibrant, and safe and welcoming, then we can change that around for the community,” Stowers said.

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When we asked about security, Stowers said there are surveillance cameras and an in-house chaperone who checks on the house each day. They will check the house to ensure there are no problems with the residence. He said safety isn’t just about physical aspects, but also mental. Amber House provides additional resources for mental health and creates an environment for young adults to learn and grow.

“We have testing coming to the house, therapy coming into the house — and volunteers. So, we’re taking care of safety on the physical side and the health side as well.”

He said there are meetings that teach young adults about finances, therapy, budgeting and more.

“The only rule we have for Amber House is you have to attend one weekly, mandatory meeting,” Stowers said. “And that meeting can be anything from financial literacy to budgeting to therapy if you want to. But we have those things in place because we want to be very resourceful, and give residents all the tools they need to get out of whatever situation they are in.”

Stowers said he hopes to add …read more

Source:: Headlines News4jax

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