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Zebra Coalition safe house opens for homeless LGBT youth

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ORLANDO, Fla. – A new safe house for the Zebra Coalition will give five more members of the LGBT homeless youth community a place to live.

Denard McNeal was 23 years old when he became homeless, lost his job, and considered taking his own life.

"I felt like OK the whole world is against me I might as well just take myself out, no one's going to care anyway right," said McNeal.

Zebra Coalition Clinical Manager Brett Burlone said more than 40 percent of the homeless youth population identify as LGBT, often times because of family rejection.

"A lot of people get asked to leave especially at the age of 18. I've seen some birthday drop offs here at our coalition, where just, happy birthday, go get help from them," said Burlone.

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony to thank the collaborative efforts to support the LGBT community in light of last month's tragedy.

"I think what's happened through the Pulse tragedy is that people realize how we're discriminated against, people realize how badly we are treated people realize. And the worst treated group of the LGBT community is the youth," said Sheehan.

McNeal spent six months living at the coalition and said the strangers who supported him are the reason he is alive today.

"I thank God that didn't happen because a lot of people who I meet like on the street now who are homeless, I talk to them and they're like you talking to me now about what you went through helps me out, there's hope for me," said McNeal.


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