As COVID-19 cases were rising in early summer, Eli, a young homeless man, called upward of 20 shelters in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan in search of a place to stay. He had two priorities: to keep safe from the pandemic and to feel safe as a gay person.
Eli hoped to stay at an LGBTQ shelter because he “didn’t want to put [himself] back into a predicament,” he said. At other shelters, Eli had been harassed and threatened for being gay — and once he was sexually assaulted.
“I’m very lucky that [the harassment] didn’t last very long,” said Eli, who asked to use a pseudonym out of concern for his safety. “Not all queer people that find themselves in that space are that lucky.”
Many homeless LGBTQ people who seek housing say they feel unwelcome — or worse. Sometimes they feel they are in danger.
And that was before COVID-19.