NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An estimated 2,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Nashville. For the LGBTQ+ community, life on the streets can be dangerous, especially for youth, but one group is building a shelter to help these young adults get on a safer life path. 

The team at Nashville Launch Pad is picking out the paint as they build the sixth mobile housing navigation center in Nashville, which is also the very first for LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 18 and 24. 

“We are the first one that is young adult focused, and the first one that is unapologetically LGBTQI-affirming,” said H.G. Stovall, executive director of the Nashville Launch Pad. “It is a big next step for Launch Pad.”

The team is working to divide the large rooms, which used to house a Donelson daycare, into smaller, private rooms with as many as 16 beds, safe from the streets. 

“What we know is if we can break the habits of homelessness before they become a life plan, we can do that from 18 to 24, and then we are reducing the strain on the existing systems by empowering them younger and earlier,” explained Stovall. 

“Young adults who identify specifically as LGBTQ+ are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their straight and cisgender peers, which is really important to note, and I think that without support, any of us would struggle,” said Corrine Elise, who runs engagement and administration at Launch Pad. 

The shelter sits just behind Connection United Methodist Church in Donelson. It will not only provide a bed, but it will also have two staff members helping youth transition from the streets to a place of their own.

“This would be little to no barrier, and year-round, which exists nowhere else in Nashville, either,” said Micah Sciarappa, program director for Nashville Launch Pad. “Ooh, it’s going to feel fantastic. I can’t wait to see the young people come through the doors. I’m going to be very excited, and I may cry, but I will try not to.” 

For as long as 120 days, this shelter can be a home for LGBTQ+ young adults, until they can find their own place and open a new chapter in their lives.  

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“The goal is to leave empowered. The goal is to leave knowing that you know what to do, and that you have a safety net, a loving family, to help you do it,” said Stovall. 

Nashville Launch Pad plans to open the LGBTQ+ shelter this fall. For more information on the organization’s other programs, click here.