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Courage MKE's C2 apartments is set to house displaced LGBTQ+ young adults later this year

Brad Schlaikowski
Outside of Courage MKE's new C2 apartments.

Courage MKE, a non-profit organization based in Wisconsin, is expanding its efforts to assist LGBTQ+ individuals to secure housing.

The organization purchased an apartment building specifically designed for LGBTQ+ young adults who are homeless and aging out of the social welfare system.

Brad Shlaikowski
Inside C2 apartments

Brad Schlaikowski is the executive director of Courage MKE. The non-profit already runs a group home for LGBTQ+ teenagers. Now, it’s opening C2 apartments, a new independent living program with support for young people who are aging out of the social welfare system.

"When we see children age out of the social welfare system, if they're lucky enough to get into an independent living program, that's amazing, right? They have their own apartment. However, they're given an apartment and that's it— with no resources or support. So if we have a staff member on site in the apartment building 24/7, if the child is having a crisis in the middle of the night, they can turn to a staff member versus their bag of prescribed meds because they don't know how to process what they're going through," says Schlaikowski.

C2 apartments are located at 20th and National. Schlaikowski says the purpose is to help LGBTQ young adults learn how to work through the traumas they've been through in their life and how to cope when they're living on their own.

"We'll be able to provide not only the four walls, right, but we are hiring our own team of case managers that the young adults will have to meet with once a week if they don't have a high school diploma when they move in here. That's the first thing we're going to work on because that's the one piece of paper that we can't say, oh, well, you don't need it, right? So we're going to work on that," says Schlaikowski.

Schlaikowski says other resources include financial literacy instruction, employment and dental care. They’ll also have therapists and case workers readily available.

Bianca Wilson is a senior scholar at the Williams Institute, an LGBT public policy and law Research Center at UCLA. Wilson says LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be living in poverty. Women, trans folks, and racial minorities are most at risk.

Extended Conversation With Courage MKE

One of the most significant findings is that LGBTQ+ people continue to experience disparities regardless of whether there's a shift in the poverty rate. It calls attention to the significance of anti-LGBTQ+ bias and structural racism in the lives of LGBTQ+ people. And so it's a reminder that these other factors are not simply individual-level psychological factors that likely explain these significant group differences between LGBT and non-LGBTQ+ people.

Wilson says that more attention to policies and services to address disparities in economic stability is needed. While there is still a need for policy change to address this issue, Constance Crockett, a resident care worker at Courage MKE, says people can help by volunteering their time.

Inside C2 apartments
Brad Schlaikowski
Inside C2 apartments

"Volunteer your time, volunteer your knowledge, your wisdom and things like that. You know, it actually touches people's hearts, so it's not always about monetary things. So yeah, and I feel like any kid that wants to come here finds out and likes it. It would be a great way to just be yourself before you're able to go out in the world and just be enveloped by love. I feel like love is an action word and I see that. I see what Courage MKE does, and they love, you know," says Crockett.

Crockett says when given resources, she's seen youth quickly transform and learn new coping skills. She says Courage MKE is more than a home; it's a family. The new apartments for LGBTQ+ youth will open later this year.

Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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