Last year, 2,291 homeless young people ages 16-23 turned to YouthLink as a safe and supportive refuge from life on the street. This number is up 27% from 2011. They might be here to find a meal and some clean clothes, take a shower or use the laundry facilities, or drop into the medical clinic. They might be here just because it’s a safe place to “be”.
There are many reasons why young people find themselves homeless. Some “age out” of institutional (foster) care or federally funded family housing. Others may be driven out of their homes due to parental drug or alcohol use, abuse, or mental health issues. Some young people find they cannot function in crowded households that lack the space and resources for older children. Others are homeless due to their own mental health issues or problems with drugs or alcohol.
The net result is a perfect storm of hyper-vulnerable young people who are ill-prepared for adulthood facing a system they may not trust and do not understand. Many of these young people lack the preparation, skills, resources and support they need to live independently. They need support and guidance from a trustworthy and reliable source to meet their basic daily needs and to become self-sufficient.
YouthLink responds to the basic needs these youth have and offers a responsive community of excellence where they can choose to take positive steps in their lives toward empowerment and self-sufficiency. Youth find here the opportunity to work toward the End of Homelessness and the services and support they need on this journey.