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Agencies Partner to Create Shelter for LGBTQ Youth


SYRACUSE, N.Y. – ACR Health and the Rescue Mission Alliance plan to open an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth.


The 10-bed shelter will serve runaway and homeless youth with a focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 12 to 17 in Syracuse and Onondaga County. The Rescue Mission and ACR Health are in the process of securing a house for the youth shelter.


The Rescue Mission and ACR Health are in the process of locating a suitable house for the shelter, completing renovations and furnishing the space. Fundraising for the youth shelter is underway with a goal of $500,000. The Plymouth Congregational Church in Syracuse has gifted $50,000 toward the project.   Will you please help us meet this goal?


Rescue Mission Chief Executive Officer Dan Seiburg , left, and ACR Health Executive Director Wil Murtaugh  aannounced their shelter plans on April 25, 2018.

“Being a self-professed Christian, leading a faith based organization that has cared for the needs of the homeless for 130 years, I cannot in good conscience ignore the dire needs of homeless LGBTQ young people who are struggling to survive on the street while largely going unnoticed and underserved,” said Rescue Mission Chief Executive Officer Dan Sieburg.


“This shelter will help our community fulfill the serious unmet need for safe housing for runaway and homeless LGBTQ youth,” said ACR Health Executive Director Wil Murtaugh. “ACR Health’s Q Center has extensive services for LGBTQ young people, but has only limited ability to provide housing. Our Rapid Re-Housing caseload is maxed out, but the need for housing remains significant.”


The need for additional emergency housing for runaway and homeless youth has become apparent in recent years. Facilities in the area capable of housing youth are frequently near or at capacity. The Rescue Mission is forced to turn youth away from its emergency shelter in Syracuse, which only serves adults 18 and older.  


Homelessness affects many segments of the youth population, but LGBTQ youth are at greater risk. Nationally, 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. The primary reason LGBTQ youth experience homelessness is family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity which often results in youth being forced from home by family. LGBTQ youth also suffer physical and sexual assaults at higher rates.


“Nationally, more than half of homeless LGBTQ youth who accessed services at youth shelters reported discrimination and victimization based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Murtaugh said. “This shelter will affirm LGBTQ youth and offer a safe place to receive help and services.”


ACR Health’s role in the collaboration is to provide programming to help youth transition to successful adulthood. The guiding principles when dealing with youth are harm reduction, positive youth development and empowerment.


The Runaway & Homeless Youth Shelter will allow the Rescue Mission and ACR Health to bring what they each do best to the project. The Rescue Mission has extensive experience establishing and operating emergency shelters and permanent residences. ACR Health has a proven record providing counseling and programming to youth, specifically LGBTQ youth.


“We, as a community, will look back at this moment and acknowledge when a tragic need was met by compassion and collaboration,” Sieburg said.


Sieburg and Murtaugh said plans call for the shelter to open to youth in early 2019.