Huck House Youth Outreach Program: Helping Young People Gain Access to Housing

Our five-member youth outreach team has added to the list of ways they can help young people. They were recently authorized by the Community Shelter Board to certify homelessness. Without this certification, young people have a hard time accessing alternative housing such as rapid re-housing or permanent supportive housing. Usually,  individuals must stay in an adult homeless shelter in order to be added to the list for housing options.

According to YOP manager Kyra Crockett-Hodge, many young people experiencing homelessness prefer not to go to adult shelters for many reasons: they prefer to be with their peers, they are afraid of theft, and they generally feel vulnerable in adult shelters.

Knowing that many young people do not use adult shelters, the Huck House YOP team offers a different entry point for accessing housing.

“We know that young people are more likely to accept guidance and help from people they trust,” said Rebecca Westerfelt, Huck House’s executive director. “One of the strengths of our YOP team is that they build relationships with youth going through difficult times and can offer appropriate help.”

Bexley and Wellington SLEEP OUT!

April is the month to SLEEP OUT! Beyond the 2nd annual Sleep Out! taking place on Friday, April 12th at COSI, Huckleberry House’s proven programs will benefit from sleepers at Bexley High School and The Wellington School. Read below to learn more about these two upcoming events helping to end youth homelessness in our community.

Bexley High School Sleep Out!

Q&A with Anna Schottenstein, Bexley Teacher

  • Why are you hosting a Sleep Out at Bexley High School?
    • We are hosting the Sleep Out at Bexley High School because it is important for students to be empowered to make a change in their community, become educated about local issues and teach others, and become more active in the community without just giving money. This provides students with experiences they will not have in a classroom but are essential life lessons.
  • What will the event look like at Bexley?
    • Throughout the night about 150-200 students will attend the sleep out. We will have music, movies, s’mores, a cookout, games, activities and various ways to raise money for the Huck House. We will also do a collection drive to get high need items. While students will be having a lot of fun at the event, we also spend a significant amount of time reflecting on how fortunate we are to only sleep outside for one night and have nice homes and loving families to return home to every other night.
  • What is your goal for the event?
    • Our goal for the event is to raise awareness for homelessness in central Ohio, while also having a great experience. Students plan and organize all aspects of the event preparing them to be the leaders of tomorrow. We also hope to raise $5,000 for the Huck House.

The Wellington School Sleep Out!

Q&A with Max Thesing & Katz Kadlic, Seniors at Wellington

  • Why are you hosting a Sleep Out at Wellington?
    • We are hosting a Sleep Out at Wellington to raise awareness for youth homelessness in central Ohio. We both attended the first annual Sleep Out! last year and were inspired to host our very own.  It was an incredibly uncomfortable experience and no one should have to go through being homeless.  We believe hosting the Wellington Sleep Out is a great way for the our community to experience being homeless to an extent.
  • What will the event look like at Wellington?
    • The Wellington Sleep Out will be similar to the Huckleberry House Sleep Out. At Wellington, we will be sleeping outside to create an uncomfortable environment.  The two of us will give an informational meeting inside of the school before going outside.  There will be various activities to do such as watch movies regarding homelessness, play board games, etc.  The next morning, we will be providing people with breakfast food and packing up the event.

  • How are you raising awareness for the event?
    • We are making announcements, hosting a guest speaker, creating a website, and selling t-shirts.  The two of us have made many announcements to the high school during morning meeting for those who are interested in attending the Sleep Out. We also hosted guest speaker Kyra Crockett-Hodge.  Kyra is the head of the youth outreach program at Huckleberry House.  She spoke about what she does at Huckleberry House and her experience at last year’s Huckleberry House Sleep Out.  We created a website with general information about the Wellington Sleep Out. We are accepting donations to Huckleberry House on our website and selling t-shirts.

 

  • What will you do with all the funds raised?
    • We will be donating all of our proceeds to the Huckleberry House so they can continue to do the incredible work they’re already doing in the central Ohio community.

Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America – National Network for Youth

Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

Written by |March 11, 2019

Recent Poll Reveals Disparity Between Wanting to Help Homeless Youths and Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

The National Network for Youth believes in the importance of tapping into key data that will help drive the mission to end youth homelessness forward. This past February, we partnered with Ipsos, a global market research and consulting firm, to poll 1,005 adults above the age of 18 on youth homelessness issues.

Ninety-one percent of polled Americans believe dealing with the problem of youth homeless is important. Eighty-eight percent agreed the success of young Americans has a direct impact on the success of their communities. While most participants agreed youth homelessness should be addressed, many did not understand the full size and scope of the issue.

The poll asked Americans how many of the 35 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 in the United States they believe experience homelessness in a given year. Twenty-six percent responded “Don’t Know” and 23 percent believed that less than 2 million young adults experience homelessness. However, of the 35 million young adults in the United States, around 3.5 million young adults (or 10%) experience some form of homelessness in a given year.

Twenty-six percent of participants also answered “Don’t Know” to how many of the 21 million Americans youths between the ages 13 and 17 experience homelessness in a year. Twenty-four percent responded correctly that between 500,000 and 1 million youths experience homelessness.

Ipsos Support Government FundingFurther questions overwhelmingly revealed that approximately 80 percent of those polled believe the federal and state governments should prioritize reducing youth homelessness. About 80 percent also agreed that federal and state governments should prioritizing the funding for programs that help young homeless people finish high school and find a job.

Over three quarters (79 percent) of polled Americans agreed that young people who can find food and shelter by couch surfing should still be allowed to use public services providing food and shelter.

Though Americans have expressed concern and the desire for the government to address youth who experience homelessness, current federal definitions of youth homelessness are limited.

Of the eight definitions of homelessness used by federal agencies and programs, all but one use criteria that are appropriate for and reflective of the experiences of young people experiencing homeless. Those programs are ones administered by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Justice and Agriculture. These definitions focus on the safety of the youth’s living situation, rather than its location or duration.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) uses a more narrow definition that focuses on the way single adults, not youth or families, experience homelessness. This definition is also used by the federal government to inform the total number of young people considered to be homeless. Many youth stay temporarily with others or in motels rather than sleeping on the street. HUD’s current definition of homelessness deems these youth to be “at lower risk” and therefore not considered to be a priority.

Ipsos 91% ImportantThis restrictive definition of homelessness and youth homelessness results in undercounting the number of youths who are homeless, and influences the perceived prevalence of homelessness. When definitions and prioritizations based on definitions are limited, we lose the opportunity to prevent youth who may be facing homelessness for the first time from becoming the next generation of chronically homeless adults.

Last year Congress considered, and advanced out of committee, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would ensure that anyone considered homeless by any federal program is eligible to be assessed for HUD services, and ensures that HUD’s assessment of the number of homeless individuals reflect all forms of homelessness. Congress has continued to support funding for a wide range of programs to prevent and respond to young and young adult homelessness, but more resources are needed to address the scope of the challenge.

 

The National Network for Youth has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America. NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates –organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking.

National Safe Place Week – by Emily Long

NSP Week 2019 - FB CoverThis week is National Safe Place Week, a week that not many may know about, but is very important. Around a year ago, I was on my way to Louisville, KY to learn about Safe Place. I was recently informed that I was selected to be a Columbus Foundation Summer Fellow, and my placement was at Huckleberry House working on a project called Safe Place. I was absolutely thrilled and excited. Safe Place is a youth outreach program that helps those in crisis get to safety. I was able to learn from the National Safe Place office in Louisville about the ins and outs of the program. At Huckleberry House, I was able to use this information to reconnect our Safe Place program with the Columbus Fire Department, create a new operations manual, and coordinate logistics for the sustainability of the program.

My summer at Huckleberry House working on Safe Place was impactful. It is so important to provide a way for youth in crisis to get to Huckleberry House. Our city is continuously growing and youth homelessness is a real challenge for central Ohio. I learned at Huck House to put people and relationships first to help guide this program. Safe Place is truly about the youth, and the number one priority is to keep them safe. I am grateful for the opportunity to work on Safe Place last summer and to work with all the folks at Huck House. If the program helps even just one youth find their way to Huck House, it is worth it to keep our Columbus youth safe!

Written by Emily Long, Huck House 2019 Columbus Foundation Fellow

Sleep Out! Team Spotlight – New Leaders Council Columbus

New Leader's Council Columbus Group

 

New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed.

  • Why is your team sleeping out on April 12th, 2019? To be a part of an effort to raise awareness and money for a growing and often forgotten population of fellow humans in our Columbus community
  • What does your team hope to gain from the Sleep Out? We hope to that be experiencing even a small slice of the reality faced by the homeless will leave us with a better understanding of the harsh reality lived by so many.
  • What brings your team together for this event? We all understand that Columbus can never truly by a city of Us until all people are able to access all opportunities, especially basic human needs like shelter and food.

Support the New Leaders Council – Columbus team in their commitment to raise awareness and funds and Sleep Out! to end youth homelessness in central Ohio. Donate to their team page HERE or register your own team and raise awareness and funds HERE.

Sleep Out! Team Spotlight – Columbus Gives Back

Columbus Gives Back Team

 

Columbus Gives Back is a nonprofit committed to making volunteering easy, accessible, and fun for young adults in the Columbus community. They have a team of employees and volunteers that are coming together to Sleep Out! and support our mission.

  • Why is your team sleeping out on April 12th, 2019? Columbus Gives Back is sleeping out because we believe that no youth should have to experience homelessness. We hope to raise money and awareness about this issue in our community and the resources available at Huckleberry House.
  • What does your team hope to gain from the Sleep Out? I hope that our team gains a sense of understanding of what it is like to sleep outside at night if you don’t have anywhere to call home. Experiencing homelessness by way of a simulation such as this, can bring attention to this issue in ways that a report or an article cannot. I hope our team can use this experience to be better advocates for these causes in the future.
  • What brings your team together for this event? We’re a diverse group of individuals united by our love of volunteering and making Columbus a better place. Our community will never achieve it’s full potential without addressing youth homelessness.

Support the Columbus Gives Back team in their commitment to raise $1,000 and Sleep Out! to end youth homelessness in central Ohio. Donate to their team page HERE or register your own team and raise awareness and funds HERE.

Knock Out Poverty

Coming Soon 4 - Twitter

Last year, United Way of Central Ohio and 40 community partners raised over $260,000 to Knock Out Poverty together!

This year, the team has expanded to more than 70 players, and there are even more ways for us all to win. It is a two-week friendly fundraising competition with opportunities for organizations to win up to $10,000 in bonus pool money. 100% of each donation goes to the organization you designate.

1 in 3 people in central Ohio lack the income to meet their basic needs. But you can be part of the solution. Join us and the United Way of Central Ohio in the fight against poverty by supporting our team to #KnockOutPoverty! Every dollar counts. Go to KnockOutPoverty.org and donate to Huck House to make an impact today!

Sleep Out! Team Spotlight – Starr Avenue Superstars

Kellie and Pete, along with their teenage niece, make-up the Starr Avenue Superstars, just one of the many teams sleeping out on April 12th, 2019 at COSI. Learn more about them and why they are participating!

  • Why is your team sleeping out on April 12th, 2019?  We are participating in Sleep Out! because there are homeless teens in Columbus, and we will continue to do so until there are not.  Being homeless, especially through this brutal winter, is unfathomable for most of us.  The least that we can do is bring some attention to the problem and, hopefully, pull in some resources to help solve it.
  • What does your team hope to gain from the Sleep Out?  We hope to wake Columbus up about homelessness, especially where teens and young adults are involved.
  • What is your relationship to Huck House?  I have been on the board for at least 12 years, and Kellie now works part-time for Huck House

Help the Starr Avenue Superstars reach their fundraising goal of $3,000 by donating HERE. If you interested in participating in the Sleep Out! or making a team of your own, you can register HERE.

Walk with a Doc

Walk with a Doc Mission

Three of our young people (ages 17-22) in our Transitional Living Program participated last night in a walk and conversation with a health specialist. The topic was stress reduction, which is very difficult for our young people who have been recently homeless and/or victims of domestic violence.

The therapist had them identify their stress tolerance meter, physical manifestations of stress and what things trigger each stress level. Then she had them think about physical, creative, social and relaxation coping skills and had them each do a type of guided imagery exercise.

It was a great conversation and opportunity to get outside and enjoy the snow. We are very thankful for Walk With A Doc and their vision for communities to access medical providers on a regular basis and receive valuable medical advice that extends beyond physical activity. To learn more and see where you can join or start a walk visit here.

Love and Healthy Relationships – Jaida Green

Written by: Jaida Green, MSW, LSW, Family Support Program Therapist

Love: [noun] “Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). Such a simple definition for a complex topic. Love is complex issue that people of all ages, races, and gender are faced with on a daily basis. This is especially true for the young people that we serve at Huckleberry House. As a therapist, people assume that the majority of what I talk to our youth about are topics such as depression, anxiety, and anger. While this is true, something that is also frequently brought up with our youth in therapy is love and healthy relationships. Being young and falling in love for the first time is sometimes a tough transition; finding out who you are as a teenager is difficult enough. Add learning how to love, and it is often twice as difficult. There are two specific lessons focusing on love and health relationships that frequently come up for our youth – “The Five Love Languages” and “Healthy Boundaries”.

Generally, there are five categories of ways that people prefer to both express and receive love. These categories are acts of service, gifts, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Acts of service are considered completing tasks that ease daily responsibilities (i.e. doing the dishes, making dinner, etc.). Gifts are self-explanatory, however it should be noted that the gifts don’t have to be over the top. Gifts can be small things that have thought and effort behind them and make the person feel loved. Physical touch is typically thought of as sexual contact, but this can also be things like hugs, pats of affection, or even holding hands. Quality time is spending time with a person while giving them your undivided attention. For many people this is one on one time doing things like going out to eat or talking over coffee. Lastly, words of affirmation are positive comments or things that are commonly thought of as nice to say (i.e. “You look great today,” or “I love you”). If you’re interested in finding out more about love languages, click here to take a quiz for yourself, or your child. You will need to click on the purple box that says “Learn your love language”.

Love PyramidAs mentioned above, healthy boundaries are also a common piece to consider when discussing healthy relationships. Knowing when to say “no” is something that can be difficult at any age, but is especially true for some of our youth. Often, this isn’t a conversation that is explicitly had with our youth outside of sexual consent. Knowing when to say no in other areas of a relationship and knowing what’s important to you has proven to be helpful as well. It’s also important to be assertive in relationships, specifically when setting a new boundary. An additional piece to having healthy boundaries is having respect for yourself and others. Arguments can sometimes be about winning, but that’s not a helpful mindset. Instead, helping all involved to feel that no one person’s needs are more important than the other can help to make arguments less confrontational. Lastly, considering the long term implications or consequences of an interaction can help to establish healthy boundaries. This allows for you to think more deeply about the situation and how to communicate respect. It should be noted that a relationship should not be one sided where one person is constantly giving or taking. Healthy relationships are born out of understanding, not only of yourself but also, the person you are in a relationship with. Whether it be a romantic relationship, friendship, or a relationship with a loved one, taking the time to learn more about yourself and the role you play, as well as the other person involved, can help to foster a positive healthy relationship.