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Philly Campaign Raises Awareness Of LGBT Youth Homelessness

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The Valley Youth House on Samson Street is kicking off a campaign to raise funds to help homeless LGBT youth.

Valerie Johnson, an officer with Valley Youth House, says the group decided after a recent census of homeless youth in Philadelphia to do something unusual to get attention:

"They're sleeping on couches, they're not sleeping on the street. So we wanted to bring a couch to the streets to try and raise awareness."

She says the "Couches Don't Count" campaign launches a Shelter Pride fundraising drive to pull in some $300,000:

"It's a huge goal, but when you think about it on a youth-to-youth basis, for as little as $5,600 you could support one youth for six months."



Photographer/author Rachelle Lee Smith has captured images of LGBT youth. She says the stories from her subjects validate the need:

"A large part of that is being kicked out of their house and not being accepted and not having a stable place to live."

Valley House helps 25 young people a year with transitional housing and Johnson says the goal is to double that number by 2017.

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