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Kids Belong In Homes, Not Alleys

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

Approximately 1.6 million children are homeless each year. Along with the hardship of losing one's home, family, friendship, and routine, many homeless youth are also the victim of trauma. Homeless youth are exposed to countless dangers while living on the street, with an increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and a vulnerability to being trafficked. 

In 2010 in Minnesota, there were 15,898 homeless children. Although Minnesota ranks 2nd best among the states for its homeless youth population, this is still 15,898 too many. Here are some statistics on homeless youth in Minnesota via Youth Moving Forward:

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  • 47% of the total homeless population in Minnesota are age 21 and younger
  • 52% of homeless youth are female (national statistic)
  • 66% of homeless youth are Black, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic or of mixed race compared to 18% of all MN youth
  • 49% report a significant mental health problem
  • 51% had been physically or sexually abused

These number are all very sad, but the one that really stood out to me is "89% of homeless youth 17 & younger are enrolled in school". This means that teachers and other staff have the opportunity to recognize these children are homeless, and are not doing anything about it. I strongly feel that we need better programs implemented in schools to recognize homelessness as well as abuse. I think teachers are a resource for insuring children are safe and healthy that is not being used.

The reasons that children become homeless in Minnesota are varied, but the majority of children are homeless because they do not have parents who are able to house them or (even sadder) are willing to house them. 

  • 63% cannot live with their families because of conflict or abuse
  • 7% have been kicked out by their families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • 15% have a parent or guardian that cannot provide housing for them because of their own homelessness

If you're interested in learning more about youth homelessness in Minnesota, and/or hearing personal narratives from homeless youth, check out these videos via the Wilder Foundation.

If you want to help make a difference in these kids lives and work to eliminate youth homelessness in Minnesota, here are some organizations you can volunteer with:

Avenues for Homeless Youth

Provides emergency shelter, short term housing and support services for homeless youth. They offer a number of ways you can help from providing tutoring, decorating a room, or preparing meals.

The Bridge for Youth

Helps youth in crisis get off the street and into safe shelter, reunite with families and build skills for a better life. Volunteer opportunities include tutoring, wellness coaching, assistance with recreational activities, and help with administrative tasks.

Provides an "advocacy toolbox" with information about state and local representatives and guidelines for writing to legislators, and definitions of terms. It provides advocacy alerts and tools to take action on housing issues of concern.
 
Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless
 
Provides a number of ways to raise awareness and take action as an individual, group, service provider or elected official.
 
Youth Moving Forward
 
Join the campaign to end youth homelessness! The focus of this coalition is to support prevention and intervention efforts to end youth homelessness in Minnesota.

 

Get out their and better some lives!

~Meghan

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