Washington State's Office Of Homeless Youth: Grants $11 Million To 30 Counties Of Which 23 Are Rural Counties, Including $4.29 Million From HUD & $500,000 For Youth Exiting State Custody

The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Office of Homeless Youth has awarded $11 million to enable communities across the state to respond to more young people in need of stable housing and support. The grants boost services and resources in 30 counties, 23 of which are rural.   https://www.commerce.wa.gov/news-releases/office-of-homeless-youth-awards-11-million-to-expand-services-in-30-washington-counties/   Funding was awarded through four initiatives that build Washington’s statewide system of support for young people, and ensure that no young person has to spend a single night without a safe and stable place to call home.  “Young people need to have a safe, secure place to call home which will help give them a strong foundation for their entire lives,” First Lady Trudi Inslee said. “Jay and I are dedicated to eliminating youth homelessness and these grants will allow more young people the opportunity to seek housing and support which are crucial for self-sufficiency.”  Many people think of homelessness as a uniquely urban problem. Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce, emphasized that people are struggling with housing in every community, especially in areas with very limited resources to help.  “As our future leaders, teachers, and innovators, young people are our most precious asset,” Brown said. “This funding will strengthen communities throughout the state – from Asotin to Walla Walla, Grays Harbor to Okanogan and beyond – by providing an assurance of stable housing to help every young person in Washington seek their full potential,” Brown said.  Commerce received 100 applications requesting a total of more than $42 million. A range of stakeholders, including young people with lived expertise, served on review teams for grants awarded to community service providers throughout the state for a variety of programs.  The four funding initiatives include:  Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program ($4.29 million) -In July 2018, the Washington Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC), with Commerce as the lead applicant, won over $4 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Youth Homeless Demonstration Program (YHDP) funding. Washington was one of 11 CoC’s nationwide to receive funds for grants to eligible counties. The Office of Homeless Youth led a nine-month program planning process and a competitive funding process for Washington’s most rural counties.  Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program  Grantee name Counties served by grant Program Award amount  Northwest Youth Services Skagit and Island Rapid Rehousing $410,614  Olympic Community Action Programs Jefferson Rapid Rehousing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $243,124  Pacific County Health and Human Services Department Pacific and Lewis Rapid Rehousing $300,087  HopeSource Okanogan, Grant, Kittitas and Douglas Rapid Rehousing, Transitional Housing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $1,157,467  Washington Gorge Action Programs Klickitat and Skamania Supportive Services Only – Outreach $200,000  Ryan’s House for Youth Island Supportive Services Only – Outreach $200,000  Shelton Family Center Mason Supportive Services Only – Outreach $270,000  Youth Emergency Services (YES)  Pend Oreille, Adams, Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens Supportive Services Only – Outreach $168,970  Coastal Community Action Grays Harbor Supportive Services Only – Outreach $ 211,331  Serenity House Clallam Rapid Rehousing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $422,662  Blue Mountain Action Council Columbia and Garfield Rapid Rehousing $ 211,331  Community Action Center Whitman Rapid Rehousing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $256,657  Washington State Supportive Services Only – Statewide Youth Leadership $240,000  TOTAL $4,292,243  Anchor Community Initiative ($3.7 million) -The Anchor Community Initiative, an innovative program led by Away Home Washington, aims to end youth homelessness in four target communities by 2022: Spokane, Walla Walla, Yakima, and Pierce counties. Grants to seven service providers in these communities will support interventions to drive reductions in youth and young adult homelessness.  Anchor Community Initiative  Grantee name Counties served Program Award amount  Blue Mountain Action Council Walla Walla Street Outreach; Young Adult Housing; Ancillary Therapeutic Services $940,000  Catholic Charities of Yakima Yakima Young Adult Housing $185,850  Rod’s House Yakima Street Outreach; Young Adult Shelter $518,114  Yakima Neighborhood Health Services Yakima Street Outreach; Ancillary Therapeutic Services $236,036  City of Spokane Spokane Street Outreach $400,000  Volunteers of America Spokane Young Adult Housing $540,000  Pierce County Pierce Young Adult Shelter; Street Outreach $940,000  TOTAL $3,760,000  Expansion of core shelter, housing and outreach programs ($2.57 million) -These grants expand emergency housing and rental assistance, crisis intervention services, outreach to connect homeless youth with resources and other assistance to youth and young adults in communities throughout the state.  Core program expansion  Grantee name Counties served Program Award amount  Council for the Homeless Clark Street Outreach $121,860  Grays Harbor County Grays Harbor HOPE Center $955,364  Janus Youth Programs Clark Young Adult Housing $300,000  Nexus Youth & Families King Young Adult Housing $208,058  Northwest Youth Services Skagit Street Outreach $107,131  Okanogan County Action Council Okanogan Street Outreach $280,000  Tacoma Community Housing, REACH Center Pierce Young Adult Housing $300,000  Volunteers of America Spokane Young Adult Housing $191,887  Youth Family Adult Connections Spokane Ancillary Therapeutic Services $110,700  TOTAL $2,575,000  System of Care grants ($500,000) -Washington passed an act in 2018 (SSB 6560) to ensure that unaccompanied youth leaving a public system of care – such as the child welfare, behavioral health, juvenile justice and foster care – are discharged into safe and stable housing. The Raikes Foundation and Office of Homeless Youth have partnered to fund $500,000 in projects to achieve these goals.  System of Care grants  Grantee name Counties served by grant Award amount  Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration Statewide $194,013  Volunteers of America Spokane, Lincoln, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Adams, Whitman, Chelan, Ferry, Okanogan, Douglas, Grant, Garfield, Asotin $176,059  YouthCare King $129,928  TOTAL $500,000  For more information about the Office of Homeless Youth and other programs addressing homelessness in Washington, visit www.commerce.wa.gov.

The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Office of Homeless Youth has awarded $11 million to enable communities across the state to respond to more young people in need of stable housing and support. The grants boost services and resources in 30 counties, 23 of which are rural.

https://www.commerce.wa.gov/news-releases/office-of-homeless-youth-awards-11-million-to-expand-services-in-30-washington-counties/

Funding was awarded through four initiatives that build Washington’s statewide system of support for young people, and ensure that no young person has to spend a single night without a safe and stable place to call home.

“Young people need to have a safe, secure place to call home which will help give them a strong foundation for their entire lives,” First Lady Trudi Inslee said. “Jay and I are dedicated to eliminating youth homelessness and these grants will allow more young people the opportunity to seek housing and support which are crucial for self-sufficiency.”

Many people think of homelessness as a uniquely urban problem. Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce, emphasized that people are struggling with housing in every community, especially in areas with very limited resources to help.

“As our future leaders, teachers, and innovators, young people are our most precious asset,” Brown said. “This funding will strengthen communities throughout the state – from Asotin to Walla Walla, Grays Harbor to Okanogan and beyond – by providing an assurance of stable housing to help every young person in Washington seek their full potential,” Brown said.

Commerce received 100 applications requesting a total of more than $42 million. A range of stakeholders, including young people with lived expertise, served on review teams for grants awarded to community service providers throughout the state for a variety of programs.

The four funding initiatives include:

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program ($4.29 million) -In July 2018, the Washington Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC), with Commerce as the lead applicant, won over $4 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Youth Homeless Demonstration Program (YHDP) funding. Washington was one of 11 CoC’s nationwide to receive funds for grants to eligible counties. The Office of Homeless Youth led a nine-month program planning process and a competitive funding process for Washington’s most rural counties.

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program

Grantee name Counties served by grant Program Award amount

Northwest Youth Services Skagit and Island Rapid Rehousing $410,614

Olympic Community Action Programs Jefferson Rapid Rehousing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $243,124

Pacific County Health and Human Services Department Pacific and Lewis Rapid Rehousing $300,087

HopeSource Okanogan, Grant, Kittitas and Douglas Rapid Rehousing, Transitional Housing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $1,157,467

Washington Gorge Action Programs Klickitat and Skamania Supportive Services Only – Outreach $200,000

Ryan’s House for Youth Island Supportive Services Only – Outreach $200,000

Shelton Family Center Mason Supportive Services Only – Outreach $270,000

Youth Emergency Services (YES)

Pend Oreille, Adams, Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens Supportive Services Only – Outreach $168,970

Coastal Community Action Grays Harbor Supportive Services Only – Outreach $ 211,331

Serenity House Clallam Rapid Rehousing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $422,662

Blue Mountain Action Council Columbia and Garfield Rapid Rehousing $ 211,331

Community Action Center Whitman Rapid Rehousing and Supportive Services Only – Outreach $256,657

Washington State Supportive Services Only – Statewide Youth Leadership $240,000

TOTAL $4,292,243

Anchor Community Initiative ($3.7 million) -The Anchor Community Initiative, an innovative program led by Away Home Washington, aims to end youth homelessness in four target communities by 2022: Spokane, Walla Walla, Yakima, and Pierce counties. Grants to seven service providers in these communities will support interventions to drive reductions in youth and young adult homelessness.

Anchor Community Initiative

Grantee name Counties served Program Award amount

Blue Mountain Action Council Walla Walla Street Outreach; Young Adult Housing; Ancillary Therapeutic Services $940,000

Catholic Charities of Yakima Yakima Young Adult Housing $185,850

Rod’s House Yakima Street Outreach; Young Adult Shelter $518,114

Yakima Neighborhood Health Services Yakima Street Outreach; Ancillary Therapeutic Services $236,036

City of Spokane Spokane Street Outreach $400,000

Volunteers of America Spokane Young Adult Housing $540,000

Pierce County Pierce Young Adult Shelter; Street Outreach $940,000

TOTAL $3,760,000

Expansion of core shelter, housing and outreach programs ($2.57 million) -These grants expand emergency housing and rental assistance, crisis intervention services, outreach to connect homeless youth with resources and other assistance to youth and young adults in communities throughout the state.

Core program expansion

Grantee name Counties served Program Award amount

Council for the Homeless Clark Street Outreach $121,860

Grays Harbor County Grays Harbor HOPE Center $955,364

Janus Youth Programs Clark Young Adult Housing $300,000

Nexus Youth & Families King Young Adult Housing $208,058

Northwest Youth Services Skagit Street Outreach $107,131

Okanogan County Action Council Okanogan Street Outreach $280,000

Tacoma Community Housing, REACH Center Pierce Young Adult Housing $300,000

Volunteers of America Spokane Young Adult Housing $191,887

Youth Family Adult Connections Spokane Ancillary Therapeutic Services $110,700

TOTAL $2,575,000

System of Care grants ($500,000) -Washington passed an act in 2018 (SSB 6560) to ensure that unaccompanied youth leaving a public system of care – such as the child welfare, behavioral health, juvenile justice and foster care – are discharged into safe and stable housing. The Raikes Foundation and Office of Homeless Youth have partnered to fund $500,000 in projects to achieve these goals.

System of Care grants

Grantee name Counties served by grant Award amount

Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration Statewide $194,013

Volunteers of America Spokane, Lincoln, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Adams, Whitman, Chelan, Ferry, Okanogan, Douglas, Grant, Garfield, Asotin $176,059

YouthCare King $129,928

TOTAL $500,000

For more information about the Office of Homeless Youth and other programs addressing homelessness in Washington, visit www.commerce.wa.gov.

North Carolina Governor's LGBTQ Youth Executive Order No. 97: Bans Conversion Therapy Funded By State Dollars, Legally Declares Youth Being LGBTQ Is An Innate Quality & Not A Deficiency

The governor of North Carolina signed an executive order on Friday protecting LGBTQ youth from the potentially harmful and widely debunked practice of "gay conversion therapy."   https://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/tns-gay-conversion-therapy-north-carolina.html   Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed the order to target the now-discredited misconception that someone's sexuality can be changed by psychological, medical or spiritual interventions.  Executive order No. 97 declares that "being LGBTQ is an innate quality and is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming."  The order forbids funds controlled by the state to pay for such therapies, which as defined by the order, attempt to "change and individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions of feelings towards individuals of the same sex."  Allison Scott, the director of policy and programs at the Campaign for Southern Equality, praised the effort, saying that the governor's order will create a safer environment for the state's LGBTQ youth.  "Young LGBTQ people who endure 'conversion therapy' are at an immensely higher risk for depression and suicide than those whose identities are affirmed, a primary reason that we must do all we can to end this dangerous pseudoscience," Scott said in a statement.  The American Psychiatric Association sees "no credible evidence" to support it, and the practice has been opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other organizations.  In 2001, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report stating that "there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed."  The National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, a recently released study on LGBTQ youth, found that 42% of the nearly 35,000 respondents who underwent conversion therapy, reported a suicide attempt in the previous year; and 57% of transgender and non-binary youth did the same.  "No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity," the executive director of Equality North Carolina, Kendra Johnson, added. "We're grateful that Governor Cooper agrees. We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections."  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and presidential hopeful, who has pushed for efforts to end the "dangerous" practice, celebrated the governor's decision. "Conversion therapy is cruel and inhumane. I'm glad to see North Carolina ban it. I won't stop fighting till every LGBTQ+ American is free to be who they are and live without fear or discrimination," she wrote on Twitter.  Executive orders only apply to state government, but similar legislation has been introduced to the state's legislative chambers earlier this year. The executive order was viewed as a step in the right direction, according to activists.  "We look forward to working alongside our partners to pass a law -- similar to those enacted in 18 other states -- that would cover all state-licensed professionals working with minors," JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. "For North Carolina to be a leader in the South, the governor and the legislature must prioritize full LGBTQ equality."

The governor of North Carolina signed an executive order on Friday protecting LGBTQ youth from the potentially harmful and widely debunked practice of "gay conversion therapy."

https://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/tns-gay-conversion-therapy-north-carolina.html

Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed the order to target the now-discredited misconception that someone's sexuality can be changed by psychological, medical or spiritual interventions.

Executive order No. 97 declares that "being LGBTQ is an innate quality and is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming."

The order forbids funds controlled by the state to pay for such therapies, which as defined by the order, attempt to "change and individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions of feelings towards individuals of the same sex."

Allison Scott, the director of policy and programs at the Campaign for Southern Equality, praised the effort, saying that the governor's order will create a safer environment for the state's LGBTQ youth.

"Young LGBTQ people who endure 'conversion therapy' are at an immensely higher risk for depression and suicide than those whose identities are affirmed, a primary reason that we must do all we can to end this dangerous pseudoscience," Scott said in a statement.

The American Psychiatric Association sees "no credible evidence" to support it, and the practice has been opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other organizations.

In 2001, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report stating that "there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed."

The National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, a recently released study on LGBTQ youth, found that 42% of the nearly 35,000 respondents who underwent conversion therapy, reported a suicide attempt in the previous year; and 57% of transgender and non-binary youth did the same.

"No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity," the executive director of Equality North Carolina, Kendra Johnson, added. "We're grateful that Governor Cooper agrees. We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and presidential hopeful, who has pushed for efforts to end the "dangerous" practice, celebrated the governor's decision. "Conversion therapy is cruel and inhumane. I'm glad to see North Carolina ban it. I won't stop fighting till every LGBTQ+ American is free to be who they are and live without fear or discrimination," she wrote on Twitter.

Executive orders only apply to state government, but similar legislation has been introduced to the state's legislative chambers earlier this year. The executive order was viewed as a step in the right direction, according to activists.

"We look forward to working alongside our partners to pass a law -- similar to those enacted in 18 other states -- that would cover all state-licensed professionals working with minors," JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. "For North Carolina to be a leader in the South, the governor and the legislature must prioritize full LGBTQ equality."

Rural Riverside County (AZ) Nonprofit's Homeless Youth Project: With Just Over 100 Housing Units Across 4 Different Programs, State Government Set Aside $489,000 For Homeless Youth

The building doesn’t look like much from the outside — it's a tangle of thick cement walls, iron bars and pavement — but beyond the locked gate is a haven for young adults seeking reprieve from hardships. Black, leather couches in the community room invite new clients to release their stress as they sink into comforting support.   https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/health/2019/07/26/homeless-teens-struggle-transition-adulthood-little-resources/1577433001/   A television murmurs in the background, a mismatched collection of art and flyers clutter the walls, and a pile of donated bread rests on the kitchen counter nearby. The stained taupe carpet has seen better days, but a vase of flowers and light falling through the sheer curtains are small hints of home.  Samantha Stevens simultaneously felt nervous and excited when she arrived — she never had a stable place to call her own before.  In January, the 20-year-old from Temecula moved into SafeHouse's Harrison House, a residential program for young adults ages 18 to 21 in Thousand Palms. She finally felt at ease.  At Harrison House, young adults share a two-bedroom apartment with one roommate and have access to counseling, job-placement services, homework help, life-skills training and other supportive services. They each are expected to cook their own meals, save money, clean their apartments and work toward goals.  “If not for the Harrison House, I don’t think I would be here – maybe physically, but I wouldn’t be living mentally,” Stevens said. “I looked at my family and saw how my life was going to be. Everyone else did drugs and drank. I felt stuck and that’s not how I wanted my life to be.”  Stevens’ housing situation is fortunate: According to data from Riverside County, most homeless young adults can’t access transitional housing because there are few such programs available.  Not-so-happy 18th birthday  Riverside County's 2019 point-in-time homeless count uncovered startling differences in the unsheltered rates of those 18 years and older, and those who are younger.  Of the 181 homeless young adults ages 18-24 counted in the county, about 69% were unsheltered.  36 of those young adults, or about about 20% of the total, were in the Coachella Valley.  Of the 214 homeless children 17 years and younger counted in Riverside County, only about 7% were unsheltered.  Experts say this disparity is because federal directives demand that immediate housing be found for children 17 and younger. At 18, mandates no longer apply and as a result, young-adult specific programs are few and far between.  "The difference is consistent with national data on youth homelessness," said Natalie Komuro, Riverside County Homelessness Solutions executive officer. "Likely reasons for this may be that there are mechanisms to return minor children who leave home to their legal guardians. This changes when they reach 18."  While a year makes all the difference in the law, the reality is that many young adults haven't developed the skills necessary to be on their own by their 18th birthday.  Simple things like how to do laundry and cook can be daunting if young adults were never taught those skills. And larger issues, like learning how to pay bills, apply for college financial aid and find a job that pays enough to afford rent with no work history can be overwhelming without guidance.  And at an age in which they are just trying fit in with their peers, young adults sometimes feel embarrassed to ask for help.  “They are 18 and are supposed to know everything,” said Calista Vassios, SafeHouse's development officer. “When I turned 18, I didn’t know how to ‘adult’ and I lived with my parents for some years after that and then when I finally did move out, I still had their support through everything. These kids don’t have that. It’s a difficult age to be thrown into the world without someone to call.”  Overcoming a struggle: Samantha’s story  Unlike most youths experiencing homelessness, Stevens found a supportive housing program when she was 19. The program was aimed at transitioning her into a stable adulthood — something that’s needed on a larger scale, local officials said.  When asked how she’s doing in the transitional program, she first talks about how her father and younger sister are doing; putting herself first is something she’s not used to.In the past year, child protective services took her sister away from her dad – a decision Stevens is thankful for because her father relapsed to his long history of opioid and meth use. And her mother, whom Stevens has never been close to because of her addictions and cycles through prison, is currently homeless.  In 1998, her father was found to be in possession of controlled substances. Stevens was born in 1999. Between 2000 and 2003, court records show that Stevens' father was ordered to do frequent drug-testing and enroll in the Riverside County substance abuse program. He was encouraged to partake in family counseling. Her father had visitation rights, but had to be supervised by Stevens' aunt during the visits.  Stevens said for most of her childhood after that, her father was clean from drug addiction but stillexhibited abusive and depressive behaviors. In 2012, court records show that a neighbor who lived in the same apartment complex as Stevens and her father had a restraining order placed against him out of fear for her safety.  Starting in seventh grade, Stevens bounced between her dad's house, her mom's house, foster care and to the care of various relatives in and out of state.  “The last time I found out my dad relapsed, I was 17. ... I told him it wasn't healthy. I told him to go to rehab.”  “The last time I found out my dad relapsed, I was 17,” she said. “I grabbed my dad’s handkerchief and his meth pipe fell out of it. He was also overdrafting his bank account and I kept telling him he couldn’t do that. He had food stamps, but that didn’t cut it for the whole month when he had two children to take care of – my sister was just 3 at the time. I told him it wasn’t healthy. I told him to go to rehab.”  For most of her life, Stevens felt sorry for her dad. But at Harrison House she found the support to know it was OK to leave the toxic situation.  “I never really wanted to leave my dad before because I needed to take care of him,” she said. “I realized I couldn’t keep doing that that if I wanted to go to college and get a job and experience life. I can’t do that if I am taking care of the adult that was supposed to be taking care of me.”  Stevens still has a tough exterior — she's been taking care of herself for a long time already. But while she doesn’t like sitting down and talking with a therapist, she says she does appreciate when her caseworker, Marcus Martinez, starts milling about the common-area kitchen. As they cook together, Martinez will effortlessly flick the conversation back and forth between recipes and serious issues concerning Stevens's life. It “makes the discussion more authentic,” she said.  Stevens also has found new coping mechanisms to replace her self-harm habits. Now she likes to hike with friends or settle in on the recreation room couch to watch television – it's someplace where she can be around people, but still relax.  Those small changes are big to her, and have helped her move on from deeper traumas.  Riverside County service gaps  To combat the growing number of homeless young adults, Billy Williams, Harrison House's counselor, said the county needs more programs like Harrison House and more peer support specialists. He said it’s much more effective to conduct outreach with this population when it’s one young adult talking to another about resources rather than an older adult making the initial contact.  Gaining the trust of young adults who grew up navigating foster care and child protective services can be tough, said Vassios, SafeHouse's development officer.  “This age group isn’t getting services, but they also don’t know how to ask for help either,” said Martinez, the case manager. “They’ve been through the system, so they don’t trust people and they are embarrassed to ask for help. We ask if they are OK with cooking and they say ‘yes’ because they are embarrassed to say ‘no,’ but then we learn they actually don’t know how to cook and that’s something we need to teach them.”  Creating more programs to meet those specific needs can't happen without more funding, though.  “Funding priorities for homelessness have long been driven by federal leadership, which has focused on ending chronic homelessness,” said Komuro, the county's Homelessness Solutions executive officer. “As a result, we have not seen a level of urgency and priority at the federal level for youth and families. This is not to say there has been no money, but continuum of care systems must address (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s) priorities to obtain funding.”  As of 2018, the Riverside Continuum of Care had 37 beds for youth, and about 20 of those were in the desert.  A few other funding sources have been identified. Late last year, the state required that a portion of its funding allocation to the county be set aside for youth programs, resulting in $489,000 earmarked for that.  "In the coming months, the continuum of care will begin strategic planning, and during that process we will have an opportunity to clarify and affirm our local priorities," Komuro said.  In May, Riverside County partnered with youth providers to apply for $1 million in grant funding to plan for and develop an expanded response to youth homelessness in the county.  In the 2017-18 fiscal year, SafeHouse received $41,979 to be used for emergency shelters for young children and food supplies from Riverside County’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program. That amount was 0.3% of the $12 million in grants distributed for homeless services through the county’s continuum of care.  The nonprofit has a $4.5 million operating budget, according to its 2017 tax filings. Most of its revenue comes from donations and grants.  “I don’t think I could have changed my path on my own.”  Harrison House, which has 21 beds for its 18-month program, is one of two wrap-around housing programs available in the Coachella Valley tailored to this age group. In Palm Springs, The Sanctuary offers similar transitional housing for LGBTQ youths who were formerly in foster care. In the city of Riverside, there are just over 100 beds between four different transitional housing programs for young adults. The Riverside County housing authority also offers young adult-specific supportive services.  While Stevens didn’t choose to be a part of this demographic, she is thankful she was connected to Harrison House.  Since moving in, Stevens secured a job at Carl’s Jr., just down the street, and is focused on saving as much money as possible – something the program requires and assists with. The program, which Stevens is about halfway through, requires residents to work a minimum of 32 hours a week, save half of their income and maintain a clean apartment. She’s not in college but hopes to be a youth counselor one day.  “The Harrison House is accepting of who you are, and they help you work toward your goals and what you want to do,” Stevens said. “I don’t think I could have changed my path on my own.”

The building doesn’t look like much from the outside — it's a tangle of thick cement walls, iron bars and pavement — but beyond the locked gate is a haven for young adults seeking reprieve from hardships. Black, leather couches in the community room invite new clients to release their stress as they sink into comforting support.

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/health/2019/07/26/homeless-teens-struggle-transition-adulthood-little-resources/1577433001/

A television murmurs in the background, a mismatched collection of art and flyers clutter the walls, and a pile of donated bread rests on the kitchen counter nearby. The stained taupe carpet has seen better days, but a vase of flowers and light falling through the sheer curtains are small hints of home.

Samantha Stevens simultaneously felt nervous and excited when she arrived — she never had a stable place to call her own before.

In January, the 20-year-old from Temecula moved into SafeHouse's Harrison House, a residential program for young adults ages 18 to 21 in Thousand Palms. She finally felt at ease.

At Harrison House, young adults share a two-bedroom apartment with one roommate and have access to counseling, job-placement services, homework help, life-skills training and other supportive services. They each are expected to cook their own meals, save money, clean their apartments and work toward goals.

“If not for the Harrison House, I don’t think I would be here – maybe physically, but I wouldn’t be living mentally,” Stevens said. “I looked at my family and saw how my life was going to be. Everyone else did drugs and drank. I felt stuck and that’s not how I wanted my life to be.”

Stevens’ housing situation is fortunate: According to data from Riverside County, most homeless young adults can’t access transitional housing because there are few such programs available.

Not-so-happy 18th birthday

Riverside County's 2019 point-in-time homeless count uncovered startling differences in the unsheltered rates of those 18 years and older, and those who are younger.

Of the 181 homeless young adults ages 18-24 counted in the county, about 69% were unsheltered.

36 of those young adults, or about about 20% of the total, were in the Coachella Valley.

Of the 214 homeless children 17 years and younger counted in Riverside County, only about 7% were unsheltered.

Experts say this disparity is because federal directives demand that immediate housing be found for children 17 and younger. At 18, mandates no longer apply and as a result, young-adult specific programs are few and far between.

"The difference is consistent with national data on youth homelessness," said Natalie Komuro, Riverside County Homelessness Solutions executive officer. "Likely reasons for this may be that there are mechanisms to return minor children who leave home to their legal guardians. This changes when they reach 18."

While a year makes all the difference in the law, the reality is that many young adults haven't developed the skills necessary to be on their own by their 18th birthday.

Simple things like how to do laundry and cook can be daunting if young adults were never taught those skills. And larger issues, like learning how to pay bills, apply for college financial aid and find a job that pays enough to afford rent with no work history can be overwhelming without guidance.

And at an age in which they are just trying fit in with their peers, young adults sometimes feel embarrassed to ask for help.

“They are 18 and are supposed to know everything,” said Calista Vassios, SafeHouse's development officer. “When I turned 18, I didn’t know how to ‘adult’ and I lived with my parents for some years after that and then when I finally did move out, I still had their support through everything. These kids don’t have that. It’s a difficult age to be thrown into the world without someone to call.”

Overcoming a struggle: Samantha’s story

Unlike most youths experiencing homelessness, Stevens found a supportive housing program when she was 19. The program was aimed at transitioning her into a stable adulthood — something that’s needed on a larger scale, local officials said.

When asked how she’s doing in the transitional program, she first talks about how her father and younger sister are doing; putting herself first is something she’s not used to.In the past year, child protective services took her sister away from her dad – a decision Stevens is thankful for because her father relapsed to his long history of opioid and meth use. And her mother, whom Stevens has never been close to because of her addictions and cycles through prison, is currently homeless.

In 1998, her father was found to be in possession of controlled substances. Stevens was born in 1999. Between 2000 and 2003, court records show that Stevens' father was ordered to do frequent drug-testing and enroll in the Riverside County substance abuse program. He was encouraged to partake in family counseling. Her father had visitation rights, but had to be supervised by Stevens' aunt during the visits.

Stevens said for most of her childhood after that, her father was clean from drug addiction but stillexhibited abusive and depressive behaviors. In 2012, court records show that a neighbor who lived in the same apartment complex as Stevens and her father had a restraining order placed against him out of fear for her safety.

Starting in seventh grade, Stevens bounced between her dad's house, her mom's house, foster care and to the care of various relatives in and out of state.

“The last time I found out my dad relapsed, I was 17. ... I told him it wasn't healthy. I told him to go to rehab.”

“The last time I found out my dad relapsed, I was 17,” she said. “I grabbed my dad’s handkerchief and his meth pipe fell out of it. He was also overdrafting his bank account and I kept telling him he couldn’t do that. He had food stamps, but that didn’t cut it for the whole month when he had two children to take care of – my sister was just 3 at the time. I told him it wasn’t healthy. I told him to go to rehab.”

For most of her life, Stevens felt sorry for her dad. But at Harrison House she found the support to know it was OK to leave the toxic situation.

“I never really wanted to leave my dad before because I needed to take care of him,” she said. “I realized I couldn’t keep doing that that if I wanted to go to college and get a job and experience life. I can’t do that if I am taking care of the adult that was supposed to be taking care of me.”

Stevens still has a tough exterior — she's been taking care of herself for a long time already. But while she doesn’t like sitting down and talking with a therapist, she says she does appreciate when her caseworker, Marcus Martinez, starts milling about the common-area kitchen. As they cook together, Martinez will effortlessly flick the conversation back and forth between recipes and serious issues concerning Stevens's life. It “makes the discussion more authentic,” she said.

Stevens also has found new coping mechanisms to replace her self-harm habits. Now she likes to hike with friends or settle in on the recreation room couch to watch television – it's someplace where she can be around people, but still relax.

Those small changes are big to her, and have helped her move on from deeper traumas.

Riverside County service gaps

To combat the growing number of homeless young adults, Billy Williams, Harrison House's counselor, said the county needs more programs like Harrison House and more peer support specialists. He said it’s much more effective to conduct outreach with this population when it’s one young adult talking to another about resources rather than an older adult making the initial contact.

Gaining the trust of young adults who grew up navigating foster care and child protective services can be tough, said Vassios, SafeHouse's development officer.

“This age group isn’t getting services, but they also don’t know how to ask for help either,” said Martinez, the case manager. “They’ve been through the system, so they don’t trust people and they are embarrassed to ask for help. We ask if they are OK with cooking and they say ‘yes’ because they are embarrassed to say ‘no,’ but then we learn they actually don’t know how to cook and that’s something we need to teach them.”

Creating more programs to meet those specific needs can't happen without more funding, though.

“Funding priorities for homelessness have long been driven by federal leadership, which has focused on ending chronic homelessness,” said Komuro, the county's Homelessness Solutions executive officer. “As a result, we have not seen a level of urgency and priority at the federal level for youth and families. This is not to say there has been no money, but continuum of care systems must address (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s) priorities to obtain funding.”

As of 2018, the Riverside Continuum of Care had 37 beds for youth, and about 20 of those were in the desert.

A few other funding sources have been identified. Late last year, the state required that a portion of its funding allocation to the county be set aside for youth programs, resulting in $489,000 earmarked for that.

"In the coming months, the continuum of care will begin strategic planning, and during that process we will have an opportunity to clarify and affirm our local priorities," Komuro said.

In May, Riverside County partnered with youth providers to apply for $1 million in grant funding to plan for and develop an expanded response to youth homelessness in the county.

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, SafeHouse received $41,979 to be used for emergency shelters for young children and food supplies from Riverside County’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program. That amount was 0.3% of the $12 million in grants distributed for homeless services through the county’s continuum of care.

The nonprofit has a $4.5 million operating budget, according to its 2017 tax filings. Most of its revenue comes from donations and grants.

“I don’t think I could have changed my path on my own.”

Harrison House, which has 21 beds for its 18-month program, is one of two wrap-around housing programs available in the Coachella Valley tailored to this age group. In Palm Springs, The Sanctuary offers similar transitional housing for LGBTQ youths who were formerly in foster care. In the city of Riverside, there are just over 100 beds between four different transitional housing programs for young adults. The Riverside County housing authority also offers young adult-specific supportive services.

While Stevens didn’t choose to be a part of this demographic, she is thankful she was connected to Harrison House.

Since moving in, Stevens secured a job at Carl’s Jr., just down the street, and is focused on saving as much money as possible – something the program requires and assists with. The program, which Stevens is about halfway through, requires residents to work a minimum of 32 hours a week, save half of their income and maintain a clean apartment. She’s not in college but hopes to be a youth counselor one day.

“The Harrison House is accepting of who you are, and they help you work toward your goals and what you want to do,” Stevens said. “I don’t think I could have changed my path on my own.”

Minnesota's Homeless Student Data By District: Homeless Youth Attending Minnesota Public Schools Grew From About 15,200 In The 2014-15 School Year To 17,750 In 2016-17

We have to do better with the thousands of young Minnesotans like Isis Watford.    https://www.hometownsource.com/elk_river_star_news/opinion/columnists/hearing-and-helping-minnesota-s-homeless-youth-and-families/article_f1705fee-b54f-11e9-af97-6feb27d42b7b.html   Through no fault of her own, she spent four years being homeless. Recently, at age 20, Watford found a place to live. But there are still thousands of homeless youth in rural, suburban and urban Minnesota communities.  Watford told me that when she was 16 her family was evicted from their home. She recalled: “They didn’t let us take our belongings. We were left empty-handed and had to start over.” Though she now has a permanent place to stay, is working and is studying for her high school diploma, her mother and younger siblings remain homeless.  Sometimes adults make mistakes. I’ve made plenty. But did the family deserve to be homeless? Of course not.  Monica Nilsson has worked with homeless Minnesota families and youth in various ways for 25 years. Gov. Tim Walz recently asked her to help him and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan meet with some homeless families, which she did.  Nilsson told me that homeless “youth and families may be invisible, because they’re not holding a piece of cardboard on the side of the road. But they’re there.” She says “over 60 of 87 counties in Minnesota don’t have a fixed site to shelter homeless people.”  A national report by the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, found that the number of homeless youth attending Minnesota public schools grew from about 15,200 in the 2014-15 school year to 17,750 in 2016-17. (More information here: http://bit.ly/2y8RVR7.)  One study of Minnesota homeless youth found “Students in the homeless and highly mobile group had lower grade point averages and test scores than did those in the low-income and general population groups.” This and other studies found homeless youngsters face many challenges. (The research is here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19338695.)  About one-third of Minnesota homeless youth live in greater Minnesota, about one-third live in Twin Cities suburbs, and about one-third live in or near Minneapolis and St. Paul. Even the state’s most affluent communities have homeless youngsters: Minnesota Department of Education’s website shows, as of the official count date in October 2018, Wayzata Public Schools reported it had 39 homeless students, Minnetonka Public Schools reported 28 and Edina said it had eight.  Here’s the homeless count from other Minnesota school districts and chartered public schools:  Anoka-Hennepin School District: 38;  Bloomington Public Schools: 145  Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191: 92  Caledonia Area Public Schools ISD 299: 10  Cambridge-Isanti Schools: 34  Columbia Heights Public Schools: 57  Eden Prairie Schools: 16  Elk River Area Public Schools: 26  Farmington A rea Public Schools: 26  Forest Lake Area Schools: 42  Fridley Public Schools: 52  Hopkins Public Schools: 47  Lakeville Public Schools: 26  Milaca Public Schools: 18  Monticello Public School District: 17  North Branch Area Public Schools: 16  Osseo Area Schools: 254  Princeton Public Schools: 80  Richfield Public Schools: 66  Rochester Public Schools: 181  Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools: 78  St. Louis Park Public Schools: 75  Stillwater Area Public Schools: 22  Waconia Public Schools: 6  Wilder Foundation researchers interviewed more than 4,000 homeless Minnesotans on Oct. 25, 2018. They acknowledged that the 4,000 people are far fewer than the actual number of homeless Minnesotans. Wilder found:  — “Nearly one-third of homeless adults are employed.  — “Availability of affordable housing is a critical issue.  — “African Americans, American Indians, and youth who identify as LGBTQ are particularly over-represented among the homeless.”  Wilder’s one page summary is here: http://bit.ly/2Ye6gWZ.  With encouragement from a growing group of Minnesotans, the 2019 Minnesota Legislature wisely increased support for homeless people. Tom Balsley, team supervisor, Office of Economic Opportunity, Minnesota Department of Human Service, told me that the 2019 Legislature gave DHS about $4.7 million to help people who are homeless. He explained that DHS has “set aside $300,000” to develop a plan for reducing homelessness. He also reported that DHS is “connecting with key partners, including the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, the Unsheltered Design Team, and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, to identify potential opportunities for the strategic utilization of these funds to respond to unsheltered homelessness.”  That’s good.  I hope DHS also asks Nilsson and currently and formerly homeless people like Watford to help develop the plan. They’ll help explain what’s needed. They can help remind people what it’s like to have to start over.

We have to do better with the thousands of young Minnesotans like Isis Watford.

https://www.hometownsource.com/elk_river_star_news/opinion/columnists/hearing-and-helping-minnesota-s-homeless-youth-and-families/article_f1705fee-b54f-11e9-af97-6feb27d42b7b.html

Through no fault of her own, she spent four years being homeless. Recently, at age 20, Watford found a place to live. But there are still thousands of homeless youth in rural, suburban and urban Minnesota communities.

Watford told me that when she was 16 her family was evicted from their home. She recalled: “They didn’t let us take our belongings. We were left empty-handed and had to start over.” Though she now has a permanent place to stay, is working and is studying for her high school diploma, her mother and younger siblings remain homeless.

Sometimes adults make mistakes. I’ve made plenty. But did the family deserve to be homeless? Of course not.

Monica Nilsson has worked with homeless Minnesota families and youth in various ways for 25 years. Gov. Tim Walz recently asked her to help him and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan meet with some homeless families, which she did.

Nilsson told me that homeless “youth and families may be invisible, because they’re not holding a piece of cardboard on the side of the road. But they’re there.” She says “over 60 of 87 counties in Minnesota don’t have a fixed site to shelter homeless people.”

A national report by the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, found that the number of homeless youth attending Minnesota public schools grew from about 15,200 in the 2014-15 school year to 17,750 in 2016-17. (More information here: http://bit.ly/2y8RVR7.)

One study of Minnesota homeless youth found “Students in the homeless and highly mobile group had lower grade point averages and test scores than did those in the low-income and general population groups.” This and other studies found homeless youngsters face many challenges. (The research is here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19338695.)

About one-third of Minnesota homeless youth live in greater Minnesota, about one-third live in Twin Cities suburbs, and about one-third live in or near Minneapolis and St. Paul. Even the state’s most affluent communities have homeless youngsters: Minnesota Department of Education’s website shows, as of the official count date in October 2018, Wayzata Public Schools reported it had 39 homeless students, Minnetonka Public Schools reported 28 and Edina said it had eight.

Here’s the homeless count from other Minnesota school districts and chartered public schools:

Anoka-Hennepin School District: 38;

Bloomington Public Schools: 145

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191: 92

Caledonia Area Public Schools ISD 299: 10

Cambridge-Isanti Schools: 34

Columbia Heights Public Schools: 57

Eden Prairie Schools: 16

Elk River Area Public Schools: 26

Farmington A rea Public Schools: 26

Forest Lake Area Schools: 42

Fridley Public Schools: 52

Hopkins Public Schools: 47

Lakeville Public Schools: 26

Milaca Public Schools: 18

Monticello Public School District: 17

North Branch Area Public Schools: 16

Osseo Area Schools: 254

Princeton Public Schools: 80

Richfield Public Schools: 66

Rochester Public Schools: 181

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools: 78

St. Louis Park Public Schools: 75

Stillwater Area Public Schools: 22

Waconia Public Schools: 6

Wilder Foundation researchers interviewed more than 4,000 homeless Minnesotans on Oct. 25, 2018. They acknowledged that the 4,000 people are far fewer than the actual number of homeless Minnesotans. Wilder found:

— “Nearly one-third of homeless adults are employed.

— “Availability of affordable housing is a critical issue.

— “African Americans, American Indians, and youth who identify as LGBTQ are particularly over-represented among the homeless.”

Wilder’s one page summary is here: http://bit.ly/2Ye6gWZ.

With encouragement from a growing group of Minnesotans, the 2019 Minnesota Legislature wisely increased support for homeless people. Tom Balsley, team supervisor, Office of Economic Opportunity, Minnesota Department of Human Service, told me that the 2019 Legislature gave DHS about $4.7 million to help people who are homeless. He explained that DHS has “set aside $300,000” to develop a plan for reducing homelessness. He also reported that DHS is “connecting with key partners, including the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, the Unsheltered Design Team, and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, to identify potential opportunities for the strategic utilization of these funds to respond to unsheltered homelessness.”

That’s good.

I hope DHS also asks Nilsson and currently and formerly homeless people like Watford to help develop the plan. They’ll help explain what’s needed. They can help remind people what it’s like to have to start over.