Emma York-Jones, YouthCare’s Chief Program and Impact Officer, was interviewed recently by Bill Swartz on Puget Sound Now for National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. In the interview Emma touches on YouthCare’s history and mission and why recognizing youth in housing crisis matters.
“Each young person we encounter has a completely different story. Beneath those stories, we commonly hear that they’re homeless because of systemic barriers, historic inequities, poverty, racism, neglect, lack of affordable housing… and unfortunately, living on the streets might be safer than their homes,” Emma comments in the interview.
Seattle has the 4th highest homeless population nationwide, with roughly 15% of all people experiencing homelessness being youth and young adults. This year, the count was 1500-2000 young people sleeping outside on any given night.
Among the youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, certain groups are disproportionately affected: three-fourths are black, indigenous, or people of color, and one-third identify as LGBTQ+. Many young people must leave their homes at an early age due to abuse, unstable home-life, substance use, or because of how they identify.
Due to increasing awareness of the rising numbers of youth experiencing homelessness around the country, in 2007 Congress declared November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. The goal of this designation was to recognize the issue of youth homelessness, the causes behind it, and how we as a country can better serve young people in need.
No young person desires to be homeless. As Emma comments, forces outside of their control such as a lack of affordable housing, neglect, systemic barriers, and racism are amongst the complex reasons young people are in need. National Homeless Youth Awareness Month is a reminder to recognize the struggle of young people in housing crisis and to come together to end youth homelessness.
“We can’t do it alone. It takes our partner organizations, the community, and everybody here in Seattle and King County to really solve youth homelessness.”Emma York-Jones, CPIO
To listen to Emma’s full interview, click here and navigate to 18:00.