83.5% of youth experiencing homelessness use the Internet at least once per week. 62% own a mobile phone.
In fact, many young people will forego basic necessities to maintain a mobile data connection as it provides access to the resources they need to survive and thrive. Recognizing this opportunity, the True Colors Fund developed the True Access platform, which helps app developers create technology that addresses the unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness.
In America, up to 1.6 million youth are homeless each year, and up to 40% of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ). Once they are out of their homes, LGBTQ youth are at a greater risk for victimization, unsafe sexual practices, and mental health issues than non-LGBTQ young people. Transgender youth in particular often experience homelessness for longer periods of time because access to services can be hindered by discriminatory policies and/or lack of protections. Since many systems aren't set up to serve LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, more and more young people are turning to technology to find the support they need. That's where True Access comes in...
The True Access mobile app serves as a model for what LGBTQ-inclusive technology could look like.
Based on the True Colors Fund's True Colors Inclusion Directory, a national database of organizations that provide services to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, our True Access app puts inclusion at the forefront. Service providers are asked to upload photos to their directory listings that demonstrate ways in which their organizations are affirming of LGBTQ young people, such as prominent safe space signage, gender-neutral restrooms, and LGBTQ-inclusive policies and paperwork. When service providers share photos of these "Inclusion Criteria," they receive corresponding badges on their listings. Based on these photos and badges, youth can make informed decisions about whether services are right for them before entering a space.