SEATTLE -- While we saw a slight decrease in homelessness across King County, the demand to eliminate youth homelessness is at an all-time high.
Seattle and King County leaders are joining forces with several organizations and announcing their “End Youth Homelessness Now” campaign. They are have set a pretty aggressive goal: to house nearly 1,100 homeless youth in King County by June 2021.
It's rare to hear someone argue that kids deserve to be homeless. That is certainly not something you would hear from LaMont Green, the Senior Manager of All Home's End Youth Homelessness campaign.
“It's not just drug addicts and all of this other narrative that we hear, this is our collective social responsibility.”
It is far more common to want a solution for the very real, very hard truth: that more than 1,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 24 are without a place to call home.
“We don’t have enough housing, and in this region, we know we are gonna have to be creative.”
That creativity is coming in the form of the “End Youth Homelessness Now” campaign, which is backed by partnerships between the City of Seattle, King County, and several organizations, including the Raikes Foundation.
“We are gonna have setbacks, it’s not gonna be easy. But if we stay the course and we let the data and the voices of our young people guide us, we have a shot at being the first area in the nation to reach functional homelessness for youth.”
Functional homelessness for youth is as close to zero as you can get. The goal for Tricia Raikes and others involved is that our youth who need a bed or a home will be placed within 30 days and wait lists will cease to exist.
"When we prevent youth homelessness, we not only ensure our young people get a shot to live lives full of home and promise.”
New Horizons is just one of the local organizations prepared to support the campaign to end youth homelessness.
“I know that our doors are filled all of the time, I know that our beds are filled all of the time.”
Executive Director Rob Stewart Executive Director says for the most part, young people end up without a home because they have exited from one system or another.
“Our young people are amazing and vulnerable and resilient and brilliant young people and in many ways the systems have failed them.”
And nearly half of the youth seen at New Horizons are just trying to find themselves.
“If you have questions about identity, or you are trying to seek who it is that you truly are, and you have lots of different messages, a lack of consistency, a lack of parental support, you could imagine that that would be a very vulnerable and precarious place for you.”
It is because of his respect for our youth, that Stewart is just one of many who are pushing to house these young people, pushing to see them thrive and succeed. Mike McCready with Pearl Jam knows the importance of giving back, as the band's "The Home Shows" organization is committed to ending youth homelessness as well.
“I think there is no higher honor or important thing in life than to give back and to help others that are in need… Just support homeless youth, I know that they’re suffering, and they’re humans.”
The campaign is backed by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. In addition to federal investments, the campaign is supported financially by Pearl Jam's the Home Shows, The Raikes Foundation, King County, City of Seattle, Schultz Family Foundation and United Way of King County.