With both hurricane season in the southeast and winter approaching the north, people have been taking this time to stock up on supplies. Everyone’s grabbing extra batteries and cans of soup. Many forget that this is an especially tough time of your for those without a roof over their head. This is especially true for the more than 4,000 homeless children and young adults in the Seattle Area. About 800 of them are “unaccompanied,” or without a parent around.
Without the storms and inclement weather, it’s incredibly tough to be a homeless youth. Less than half of homeless boys graduate from high school and the suspension rate is more than double that of the average high schooler. More than a quarter of these youths have said they have traded sex for food or water on one or more occasions.
There are plenty of things you can do to help these youths, both directly and indirectly.
Get Educated: There are lots of resources in the Seattle area. Make sure you aren’t falling prey to misconceptions that exist about homelessness.
Vote: In 2016, Washington missed several opportunities to secure funding to prevent homelessness. In this year alone Seattle has had to shut down 15 shelters, leaving 450 people without a roof over their head. Get to know your issues and be vocal with your local government.
Volunteer: This can come in the form of time or resources. There are many organizations looking for help, and you can find them online through services like VolunteerMatch or Idealist.org. Many kids need extra help with schoolwork and there is a long list of kids hoping to be matched with tutors. These organizations always need other types of help as well, from administrative support to working in their food banks.
Donate: Shelters are constantly in need of supplies. They welcome donations of everything from money to toiletries to gently used clothes. It can be especially hard for some families to find shoes and coats for the winter cold.
What have you done to help homeless youth or bring awareness to the problem of youth homelessness in your area? Is there a program addressing youth homelessness that’s worked in your area? Please share your thoughts in the comments.