November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month

first_imgFacebook67Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Community Youth ServicesOn November 1, the 10-bed Young Adult Shelter re-opened. During a pilot earlier this year, the new program served 66 individuals. Photo credit: Community Youth Services.Every night, dozens of young adults in Thurston County try to find a safe place to sleep. It’s not easy, given that there are few shelter beds devoted to those who are under age 25. Adult homeless shelters leave youth feeling more vulnerable and desperate than they are already. Thankfully, more options are becoming available to end youth homelessness through the work of local non-profit Community Youth Services.November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, declared by the U.S. House and Senate in 2007. National statistics report the number of homeless youth at more than 1.5 million, and every day 13 young people die on the streets throughout the U.S.Thurston County participates in a statewide annual count of homeless persons, known as the Point in Time count. This census helps determine the number of homeless in the county, and the causes of their homelessness, and assists in developing a comprehensive response. As housing costs and unemployment rates have risen, the number of people in the county without a stable place to live has grown significantly: 64% since 2006, a total of 886 counted (including 233 youth aged 20 and under, a 73% increase since 2006), the highest among western Washington counties. A parallel census, conducted by Thurston County school districts in 2013, found the number of homeless public school students (K-12) to be 1,123, a dramatic 72% increase since 2006 (the statewide increase was 47%). Youth become homeless for several reasons. Many are escaping the horrific living situations.  They may come from an unstable home where they are abused sexually or physically, or their family may be suffering financially.Non-profit organizations, such as Community Youth Services, are working toward decreasing the number of homeless youth on the streets.  On Nov. 1, a Young Adult Shelter opened at CYS, providing 10 beds per night for youth up to age 24 who qualify. In addition, CYS recently received a three-year $561,000 grant that will increase the agency’s ability to do street outreach. Early in 2014, CYS will open a new building downtown at 520 Pear Street, where expanded programs can help youth connect to  resources they need to be safe, be independent and be successful working members of society.Funding for the Young Adult Shelter is through the Thurston County HOME Consortium, which provided $100,000 for the seasonal effort. In addition to those services, CYS operates Haven House, a residential center offering temporary shelter for those 12 to 17 who have run away, been abandoned or are in conflict with their families.The federal government has also addressed the issue of homelessness. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released the nation’s first plan to prevent and end homelessness through their Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The 74 page document states the goals for ending homelessness in ten years. The U.S Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs will work together to provide resources to homeless youth. To find more information on federal resources for homeless youth go to FindYouthInfo.gov.To learn more or to connect with program directors or youth, please contact:Barb Wakefield, Development CoordinatorCOMMUNITY YOUTH SERVICES(360) [email protected]last_img

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