Take a quick minute to look around you – how many people are nearby? One? Five? Thirty?
In the US, 1 in 5 teens experience homelessness.
1 in 10 young adults experience homelessness.
That means if you played on the football starting line, 2 of your teammates would have experienced homelessness.
In college, that is 3 of your classmates.
If you’re thinking back and wondering whom you knew that was homeless, please understand they are not easy to spot. We are taught from a young age to fit in. Homeless youth are masters at fitting in. This is how they survive.
How can I tell if a youth is experiencing or at risk for homelessness?
There are many risk factors when it comes to homelessness such as: abuse, LGBTQ+, alcohol or drug use (by parent or youth), intimate partner violence, worsening mental health, neglect, and previous instances of homelessness in childhood. Most youth report “relationship issues” as their biggest reason for homelessness.
“It was unsafe for me to stay”
“My family is struggling and can’t keep supporting me”
“My boyfriend said he loved me and would care for me”
“My family was never there for me”
Statements like these make me want to stop using the word “runaway”, because it implies youth have a choice to stay or leave. In reality, people who want to traffic or use youth lure them away. Once that youth is out of their home environment, they become more vulnerable. Many others leave their home out of survival. Youth are homeless after being pushed or pulled out of their home.
Building connections with youth is your most powerful tool. Youth disclose abuse, neglect, and drug use to adults they feel safe with. Becoming that adult takes time; time spent finding common interests, getting to know them, showing you care, and hanging in when others leave.
Ask the right question. Ask the question for the answer you want. Instead of “how are you”, try asking “how did you sleep last night,” “eat anything good yesterday,” “what did you do after school,” “how are your parents,” or “where did you stay last night.”
Things to look for:
(1) Frequent injuries
(2) Change in behavior
(3) Change in attendance at school or work
(4) Wearing the same clothes
(5) Hygiene changes
(6) Always hungry
(7) Hangs out at school, the library, or community center until closing
(8) Struggles to get their homework done
(9) Disclosing abuse, neglect, or unsafe living conditions
(10) Inappropriate or unhealthy relationships
If you suspect there is a risk, talk to the youth, report your concerns, and share information about Huckleberry House. The youth may not be ready to disclose but giving them our H3 card with resources to carry in their book bag or pocket, allows them to get help when they need it.
How does Huckleberry House help homeless youth?
Our crisis shelter is designed to provide a temporary, safe place for youth who have no where else to go. When they are with us, they have a bed, food, warmth, and safety. The youth aren’t vulnerable to the risks of being on the streets. We link them with a case aide who helps find housing options and build their daily living skills, while their therapist works with the youth and their family to resolve the crisis that led to the youth being at Huck House.
Our staff help the youth tackle the issues we talked about above. While they are in our care, we tackle the past, present, and building for the future. Our goal is to build resiliency, strength, and success in every youth.
The Counseling Center
Our counseling center is designed to help teens and young adults struggling with family conflict, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, trauma, and homelessness. Our therapists focus on preventing teen and young adult homelessness through addressing their mental health, strengthening family communication, utilizing the teen and young adult’s strengths, and addressing barriers to the teen or young adult remaining in their current home. To benefit from counseling, a teen or young adult does not need to be staying, living in, or on the waitlist for a housing program. Our therapists will meet with you in our offices, at school, home, library, or even the park.
For teen or young adult that enter or are waiting to enter our housing programs, this helps them build stability, resiliency, and success before moving into their apartments. For teen or young adult in the crisis shelter, our therapists can help them transition back to their home or next living arrangement. And we stay linked, working on that teen or young adult’s mental health, stability, and success. Families are also often encouraged to meet with the therapist and take part in the counseling process.
Youth Outreach Program
Our YOP team focuses on linking youth experiencing or at risk for homelessness with resources. Our team specializes in getting a youth’s needs met, wherever that youth may be. This allows us to support them throughout the crisis process, during their homelessness, and after their homelessness.
Transitional Living and Permanent Supportive Housing Programs
Our housing programs are designed to build safety nets for homeless young adult. The young adult doesn’t just get an apartment, they get 24/7/365 support from staff, counseling, and help developing their daily living skills. This process begins day one and continues until after they leave our services. As their life and needs change, we are still there to support them and achieve the next milestone.
By building safety nets, we are ensuring homeless young adults excel in our housing and can live in a home or apartment of their own. They build stability, families, and feel a sense of achievement.
Huckleberry House 24-hour Crisis Hotline (614) 294-5553