'100-Day Challenge' to tackle homeless youth crisis

100-day challenge to end youth homelessness

Austin is getting ready to set out on a 100-day challenge to tackle the growing number of homeless youth in America.

The challenge starts Friday, but first groups from across the country are gathering for a two-day workshop to come up with a plan of attack.

Local community groups, such as the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) and Lifeworks are meeting Wednesday and Thursday for the workshop at the Google Fiber Space Building in Downtown Austin with groups from Los Angeles and Cleveland.

With their colored markers in hand, the synergy between the different community groups were lighting up the atmosphere on the first day of the workshop with countless ideas on how to deal with youth homelessness.

Erin Whelan with ECHO said at the core of youth homelessness is the city's affordability crisis.

"I had a youth who had two children, living out of her car, a decent job at a bank, but she didn't have a place to put her kids in daycare, so she could go to school, and her paycheck wasn't enough to afford an apartment,” Whelan said.

During the workshop, Whelan said the groups are focusing on two issues, particularly in Austin: Reducing the amount of days the youth are in homeless shelters and providing better guidance for those who have aged out of foster care.

"I think the biggest barrier is what's next for youths, a lot of youths are able to maintain jobs or go to school, but the amount of money they're making is never going to support them living in their own apartment,” said Whelan.

The groups also want to push for a revision the state law for the adopted 18-year-olds, who no longer get support from their adopted families.

"To ensure that those youth are able to be eligible for access those resources that youth that are currently in foster care are able to access,” said Niki Paul with ECHO.

The groups said they hope to have formulated a way to more quickly funnel the youth out of homeless shelters and into society by the end of the challenge.

"This morning, we laid the groundwork for the foundation of what we're going to be doing, looking at how our system is currently operating, for youth experiencing homelessness, and this afternoon we're diving in a bit deeper, in the ideal world, what would this look like and how do we take the steps to get there,” said Paul.

Out of about 30 cities that applied for the challenge, only Los Angeles, Cleveland and Austin were chosen. The causes of youth homelessness in those other cities were discussed as well.

Go here to learn more about the challenge.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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