At least two million youth will face a period of homelessness in 2018. It’s a reality that can make dangerous situations -- including deteriorating health, domestic violence, or even human trafficking -- even more dangerous, This is especially true since formerly incarcerated, post-foster system youth, and youth-of-color are disproportionately affected. Many of these youth rely on shelter, aid, and advocacy programs for basic needs such as housing, food, and transportation, and the vast majority of these organizations rely on volunteer support to keep their work going.
It’s a huge problem, but there are ways to increase your social and political impact. If you want to engage with your community, here are three ways to help in the fight against youth homelessness.
Spend a night outside to support the nation’s largest non-profit homeless youth shelter.
Every year, Covenant House -- America's largest non-profit shelter that has been on the front lines protecting the lives of at-risk young adults for more than 40 years --provides services including crisis housing and long-term transitional housing to more than 80,000 youth in 31 cities across six countries. With a combined ethos of outreach, skill building, direct services, and political action, Covenant House hopes to end youth homelessness in the U.S. and beyond.
Like many other mission-driven, non-profit shelters, Covenant House relies heavily on community donations and support to fight youth homelessness, and programming like their international Sleep Out events make it easy to actively raise funds for homeless youth services.
Check out the VICE Impact documentary, SHELTER_:_
Grab a sleeping bag and and spend the evening with member of the Covenant House and other supporters through one of their many Sleep Out programs designed for businesses, students, and individual activists.
Covenant House also partners with athletic events across the country to raise money through sponsor-based marathons and races. Consider lacing up your shoes and hitting the pavement to end youth homelessness.
Fight Homelessness among LGBT youth with the True Color Fund.
The True Color Fund has identified a startling fact: Only 7 percent of the nation’s total youth population identify as LGBT, but LGBT youth make up almost 40 percent of homeless youth across the country.
True Color Fund’s #40toNoneDay wants to end the correlation between LGBT identity and youth homelessness through a massive day of national policy action, storytelling, and support. #40toNoneDay is planned for April 26, 2018. Show your support for the fight against LGBT youth homelessness by posting an “unselfie” with a True Color Fund pledge sign, or find a way to make your work and leisure spaces a safer space for LGBT youth struggling with homelessness.
You can also support True Color Fund’s work by starting a personalized fundraising campaign. TCF provides fundraising plans for everything from wedding giving to 5k race sponsoring to make your fundraising experience fun and accessible.
Help the National Network for Youth fight youth homelessness at the policy level.
For more than 40 years the National Network for Youth has been fighting youth homelessness at the local, state, and federal levels, including leading the development of the original Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
Now, the National Network for Youth is calling on you, the voter, to educate yourself on options for policy reform aimed at fighting homelessness, and to advocate for change at the polls. NN4Y provides policy briefs on specific legislation including the Homeless Children and Youth Act, and provides a full platform to guide policy drafting and adoption.
NN4Y also provides a step-by-step guide to prepare citizens to act as homeless youth advocates at the state level, and makes it easy for you to contact your representatives with the goal of bringing homeless youth concerns to the legislative forefront.
In order to provide these kinds of fundamental services for this population, Covenant House -- America's largest non-profit shelter network that has been on the front lines protecting the lives of at-risk young adults for more than 40 years -- needs your support. You can make a difference by donating to their organization and watching SHELTER above.