Thursday, March 27, 2014

What I've Learned About Suburban Homelessness

Today marks two years that I’ve been working specifically with youth who are homeless or are precariously housed.

Here are some of the major things I have learned:

1.       Youth homelessness happens for all kinds of reasons which might include:

  • Parent(s) or Guardian(s) do not have the resources to keep you safe/housed.
  • Mom’s boyfriend doesn't like you.
  • You're turning 18, so you have to go.
  • You just came out as GLBT or Q.  
  • You're fleeing a DV situation.
  • Whoever you're staying with doesn't approve of your partner, religion, extra curricular's, or any other number of things.
  • You face barriers to employment, such as being unable to get an ID, not having enough work experience to get hired, not having available transportation to get to work, etc.
  • The Fair Market rate for a 1 bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities is $756, not including utilities. 
  • If you ride a bus to/from a job that pays min wage 5x a week, it costs $90 a month to go to work.
  • To have a dark/cold place to live and a way to get to work, you need to work 140 hours a month – or 35 hours a week.  This does not account for the cost of food, utilities, putting away/investing, getting warm clothes in the winter, sunscreen in the summer, a cell phone, laundry, etc.

2.       Most of the youth I work with who are experiencing homelessness are in school and working at least one job.

3.       Racism and Bigotry are alive and well – especially in the northwest Hennepin/Anoka County Suburbs.

  • It’s incredibly taxing/wearing/frustrating

4.       Having a team of kick ass coworkers has made a world of difference - both personally and professionally.

5.       In the past two years, my friends and family have donated:

  • 3 beds, a microwave, and other household items
  • More than $1,000 worth of hygiene supplies
  • More than $3500 in cash
  • More than 300 pounds of food
  • At least 50 pounds of clothes
  • Several hours leading presentations/workshops 

6.       Without your support, none of this would be possible.  

7.        THANK YOU for all that you have done, and continue to do.