Anawim Housing is proud to be a part of solving youth homelessness in Polk County. Over the past three years, Executive Director Cynthia Latcham, has been working with key stakeholders across Polk County to create a plan for ending youth homelessness. The process was detailed and targeted in defining the problem, outlining the causes, and finding potential solutions.
There was an impressive community-wide involvement from the juvenile justice system, local public schools, child welfare, law enforcement, and agencies that specialize in homelessness and youth homelessness. The result was a comprehensive plan aimed at ending youth homelessness in our community.
This plan served as a platform for applying for a highly competitive HUD (The Department of Housing and Urban Development) Youth Homeless Demonstration Grant. These grants infuse financial and technical support into communities ready to take decisive action in ending youth homelessness.
Anawim Housing has been providing permanent supportive housing to families and individuals experiencing homelessness for more than twenty years. While Anawim has served youth participants in our programming since the beginning, the opportunity to create a youth-specific project was exciting.
About Youth Homelessness:
Youth homelessness is rooted in family conflict. Young people involved in child welfare or the juvenile justice system are more likely to end up experiencing homelessness. The traditional familial supports for young people simply do not exist for this population. youth are still learning to navigate life, pay bills, and attend school or work. Without a safety net, problems can arise quickly. Youth experiencing homelessness are more likely to be victims of human trafficking or to have experienced domestic violence. Trauma is a significant factor in the lives of young people on our streets. Youth who identify as LGBTQ, pregnant or parenting youth, youth with special needs or disabilities, and youth of color, particularly African American and Native American youth, are more likely to be come homeless.
About the Grant:
The grant that Anawim Housing received will serve transitional aged youth between the ages of 18 and 24. The project will serve parenting youth as well as individuals in our traditional scattered-site model. The scattered-site model allows for young people to choose the location and type of home that best fits their needs. Collaboration and choice are paramount when working with youth. Program managers will partner with participants to determine what they want in a home.
"Our ideas of the perfect home might not match up with their vision. It's important to lean into the paradigm shift from telling youth what they need to partnering with them in defining their version of a happy and healthy life," says Cynthia Latcham, Anawim Housing Executive Director.
Creating the Youth Homeless Opportunity Program involved input from a local Youth Action Council and HUD technical advisors. This oversight ensured that youth had ownership in the creation of the project. These advisors worked to address issues of equity for youth of color and those who identify as LGBTQ.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development created an application process that required thought and research. It emphasized creativity and collaboration within the community. As ar result, Anawim housing is excited to offer a Permanent Supportive Housing program tailored to fit the needs of our community. Anawim Housing will utilize adaptations for positive youth development - including hiring a peer support advocate, using a shared housing model, and adapting our Full Circle peer support group with a youth focus.