YouthCare’s mission is to end youth homelessness and to ensure that young people are valued for who they are and empowered to achieve their potential. To end homelessness, we must commit ourselves to seeking a more just and equitable society.
The reality of homelessness must be contextualized by our nation’s history of colonization and slavery, as well as the systematic theft and denial of land, assets, and access to people of color. This includes the Duwamish land that YouthCare sits on, the legacies of redlining, where banks denied African Americans mortgage loans in neighborhoods deemed “hazardous” because of their ethnic and racial composition, and racial covenants, where people of color were restricted from living in white neighborhoods. These injustices persist to this day. As our region grows, we know that communities of color are at the highest risk of displacement and homelessness.
The young people served by YouthCare experience these inequities. Our young people are disproportionally youth of color, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and refugees—with many identities that overlap and intersect. A national study on the prevalence of youth homelessness found that Black or African American youth have an 83% higher risk of experiencing homelessness, Hispanic/LatinX, non-white youth have a 33% higher risk, and LGBTQ+ youth have a 120% higher risk. We also know that approximately one-third of young people experiencing homelessness in King County have been in foster care and almost one half have had some experience with the juvenile detention system—two systems in which youth of color are disproportionately targeted and overrepresented. Prioritizing racial equity is essential to preventing and ending homelessness.
YouthCare is committed to acknowledging, naming, and actively working to dismantle the systems of oppression that disproportionately push young people into homelessness: institutionalized racism and white supremacy, classism and structural poverty, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, and xenophobia.
This includes investing in outreach programs that intentionally engage youth of color, employment training programs that prepare youth to overcome racial barriers in the workforce, individualized education programs that address educational racial disparities, housing programs designed to support LGBTQ+-identified youth and allies, prevention programs that work with specialized populations most at risk of homelessness, an agency-wide Language Access Team that trains staff to serve youth with limited English proficiency, and strategic advocacy to address the root causes of homelessness.
We are dedicated to learning, growing, and strengthening our agency’s commitment to social and racial justice. This includes not only improving our internal programs but showing up to support friends and partners in communities of color. Only in doing so will we collectively end youth homelessness.
*YouthCare thanks the members of our Cultural Impact Committee for their support in shaping and informing this statement*