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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Report: Huge Number of LGBT People Can't Afford to Feed Themselves

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

click to enlarge hungry.jpg

A recent study by the Williams Institute, a UCLA based think tank, concluded that 29 percent of LGBT people couldn't afford to feed themselves or their families in 2013.

That coincides with other studies that have shown roughly 29 percent of LGBT people in San Francisco are homeless.

Some of the study's specific findings are as follows:

  • 21 percent of LGBT people age 18-44 participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) where they relied on food stamps. That's 1.1 million people -- and 650,000 of them are raising children.
  • 84,000 same-sex couples participated in SNAP programs this past year.
  • The study says that LGBT adults are 1.7 times more likely to be unable to afford to feed themselves compared to their heterosexual counterparts -- this applies to couples as well as singles.
  • LGBT adults ages 18-44 raising children are 1.8 times more likely to be receiving food stamps than their heterosexual counterparts.
  • Same-sex couples raising children are 2.1 times more likely to be receiving food stamps than opposite sex couples with kids.

The study also looked at statistics within several LGBT subgroups and found:

  • 25 percent percent of bisexuals receive food stamps, as compared to 14 percent of gay men and lesbians.
  • 34 percent of LGBT women did not have enough money for food in the past year. Among non-LGBT women, that percentage drops to 20 percent.
Figures also differ according to race. For instance, 37 percent of African American LGBT adults struggled with food shortages in the past year, and among LGBT Native Americans, it was 55 percent.

Brian Basinger, executive director of the AIDS Housing Alliance, told SF Weekly that his office was trying to help alleviate this clear problem.

"Our organization helps address this unmet need through our program Simply Sandwiches," Basinger told us. "We distribute 10,000 organic brown bag lunches annually to people in need. In addition to supporting the members of the AIDS Housing Alliance, we provide nutritional support through our collaborating agencies such as the Coalition on Homelessness, Episcopal Community Services, homeless youth street outreach teams, and more."

Basinger said that he could be contacted at the AIDS Housing Alliance office for more information on Simply Sandwiches.

Longtime housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca said escalating rents in the city's gay-friendly neighborhoods are partly to blame. He said he's seen recent rental listings for $4,200 per month in the Castro, $8,000 per month at Sanchez and Market streets, and a whopping $10,500 at 19th and Valencia streets.

Mecca noted that Previous Williams Institute studies have shown that LGBT folks are just as poor, and in some case poorer than members of other communities.

"It's great that we gain the right to marry and to be out in the military, but it's a great shame that we're not taking care of our own," Meccas said. "Whatever happened to that amazing Queer community of the '80s that showed the world it could take care of it's own? Why aren't LGBT organizations declaring war on poverty in our community? Why aren't they supporting food programs and pantries in the Castro and other places with large LGBT populations?"


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