The city of Springfield and non-profits seek to end youth homelessness
The city of Springfield and local non-profits are teaming up to get homeless youth off the streets.
It's a growing problem in Springfield: teens and young adults with no where to go. That's why the city will apply for a federal grant through The Department of Housing and Urban Development that would help find both short and long-term solutions.
"On any given night, we estimate that there are somewhere around 300 youth in Springfield who are either sleeping on the street or in abandoned buildings or precariously housed situations," The Kitchen's Director of Housing Programs Randy McCoy said.
Many of the kids can't always count on a safe place to lay their heads.
"They may be trading sexual favors for a safe place to sleep that night or something else that is very troubling for them and their long-term stability," McCoy said.
McCoy says local organizations like The Kitchen's The Rare Breed do what they can, but money is tight.
"Currently, there really aren't emergency shelter beds in Springfield for youth. Empowering Youth has a few, but not very many and they're always full. The Kitchen has a few, but not very many and they're always full," McCoy said.
The grant would help them provide that short-term housing and work on long term solutions.
"[It would] provide a considerable amount of money, maybe as much as three million dollars over a two to four year period for us to put these programs into affect and work to end youth homelessness in our community," McCoy said.
The city will apply for the grant by November.
"It's very competitive. There will be 10 cities nationwide that would receive this," Springfield's Planning and Development Manager Brendan Griesemer said.
Even if Springfield isn't awarded the money, Griesemer says the process has linked the city and local organizations as they work together to fight this problem.
"We think those relationships will assist us down the road as we move forward in our planning for our homeless population and trying to alleviate that, especially on the youth," Griesemer said.
There's no yet on when the winners of that grant will be announced.
The Rare Breed will host a fundraiser called the Sleep Out on November 4th during which participants can get a feel for what these homeless youth are faced with by spending the night outside.