CHICAGO — "25K in 25 days."
That's the goal for Project Fierce, a local nonprofit looking to buy a South or West Side home for at-risk LGBT youths.
It's estimated that 20 to 40 percent of all homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Many are disowned once they come out of the closet. Still others flee abusive or unstable homes.
In Chicago, these youths vie for limited resources — most of which are on the North Side.
"We wanted to create services on the South and West Side," Project Fierce co-founder Andre Perez said.
"Young people feel like they have to come to Boystown. ... It's an important message to be who they are and have an affirming space without having to leave the neighborhoods they come from."
Project Fierce, an all-volunteer group that launched last year, hopes to buy a three-flat house in Austin, South Shore or West Garfield Park by the end of 2014.
Perez said the group is eyeing foreclosed homes near public transportation. The house would accommodate eight to 10 young people and could open by January.
An Indiegogo campaign launched this month is trying to raise $25,000 — the last big chunk of cash the group needs to buy its house.
And Perez knows the importance of housing.
"I left home when I was 18, without the support of my family," he said, adding that his home life was abusive.
As a college student, Perez struggled when dorms were closed for holidays or school breaks. He'd couch surf and hope for the best, but said living day-to-day prevents long-term planning.
"I just felt very isolated," Perez said. "I didn't have a sense of future or the ability to plan out my life. When you have anxiety and don't know what's going to happen ... it doesn't matter how successful you are today. What's going to happen tomorrow?"
The fundraiser can be found online here.