BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For some children and young adults, finding a safe and comfortable place to live is really difficult, just because of who they are. Now, a Baton Rouge non-profit organization is setting up homes for 16 to 21-year-olds who need help.
On the outside, it looks like just another apartment complex. Inside, however, the space represents the freedom to be who you are.
"What we're developing here is a transitional living program," Rafael de Castro, executive director of Youth Oasis.
The non-profit provides housing for homeless, runaways and youth in the custody of the state of Louisiana. Leaders are in the process of expanding those programs.
"We were seeing a lot of individuals that are in foster care that are LGBT and needed a place to stay," de Castro explained.
He said seven percent of children nationwide identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. However, 20 to 40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBT.
The non-profit has seen a rise in requests to its shelters, specifically from transgender individuals.
So, to keep children from 16 to 21 years old from becoming statistics, those who are in the final years of foster care or who've aged out of the system will be eligible for a fully furnished one bedroom apartment. The apartments are still being renovated.
"It's really the first residential LGBT program in the state of Louisiana," de Castro added.
He said LGBT children often leave the state to find equal housing or choose to live on the streets. In the new complex, they will get counseling, meals and more.
"Work with them, teaching life skills. Help get jobs," de Castro stated.
"If you show them love, they'll love you back. Well, that's what this place is all about. It's about showing love, kindness and teaching them what they need to be successful individuals," de Castro explained.
The nine-unit shelter will open in January.