Tija Danzig, Homeless Programs Manager, No Phone Number Available
Friday, May 26, 2017 at 2:37 p.m.
Nearly 13,000 unaccompanied youth experience homelessness each year in Washington State. This statistic is staggering and brings to light a very critical issue. There is growing awareness across the nation about youth homelessness and the need to really focus in on pivotal steps to address the problem. Efforts to innovate and improve response systems for youth are underway and communities are working together to share best practices and learn from one another in order to better support our young people.
One way that communities are doing this is through 100 Day Challenges, which provide a fast-paced and focused way to support young people experiencing homelessness, requiring focus, dedication, and buy-in from system leaders, service providers, front-line staff, and community members in order to solve this complex problem. Spokane has signed on to do exactly this.
What is the 100 Day Challenge?
The 100 Day Challenge is a statewide movement to house homeless youth that is being led by A Way Home Washington, with coaching by the Rapid Results Institute. The goal of the 100 Day Challenge is to rethink how we address homelessness and find new community-led solutions that support and empower youth and young adults. This is the first time that a state has taken on this challenge together as a unified effort, demonstrating Washington’s commitment to the health and well-being of the region and showcasing its collaborative and inclusive nature. Along with Pierce and King Counties, Spokane is deliberately prioritizing youth and young adults through this effort; focusing on improving local and state systems, creating opportunities for partnerships across sectors, cultivating the health and well-being of our future generations, and raising awareness of the issue and ways communities can be engaged in finding solutions.
The great thing about a challenge like this is that it generates urgency around preventing and ending youth homelessness because the timeframe requires partners to think quickly, try new things, and get the entire community rallied behind solutions for its youth. We want to make sure that our youth don't become chronically homeless adults, and we want to get involved right now so we can lay a new foundation and change the direction of their future. In Spokane, this means mobilizing and working alongside a diverse group of partners and stakeholders to enhance and sustain systems that target the specific needs of youth between the ages of 13 and 18 and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24-years-old.
What is Spokane’s 100 Day Challenge goal?
Spokane’s goal is to house 100 youth in 100 days, with at least 50% being involved with systems, like juvenile justice or foster care, and with at least 10 of the 100 being minors. “100 Youth, 100 Days”. It is really important to our community that we create a safety net for youth exiting systems and create an infrastructure that can support and provide directed services for our displaced youth. But, for Spokane’s dedicated team of service providers from 18 agencies, housing isn’t enough. The team’s mission is also to verify that 100% of clients receive person-centered services to support the youth and give them the assistance they need to stay housed and healthy beyond day 100. It is a big goal but it’s an important one in our community.
The team is working to develop a new system to ensure that youth and young adults are able to access the services they need. This includes designing a coordinated way for youth to get access to a suite of services to help them be successful. As part of that effort, the Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) has started youth-focused coordinated entry and referral for youth aged 18 to 24 (and emancipated minors) to start the process of getting assistance with housing and support. The youth time is on Thursdays from 1 to 4:30 but they can also come down to 212 S. Wall any day of the week from 8:00 to 4:30 (closed 12:00 to 1:00) to get support, or they can call the office at (509) 456-SNAP (7627) to make an appointment.
What is the progress to date?
To date, our team has housed 30 youth! That is 30 youth in the first 35 days of the challenge. This is something to be proud of, as the team has been focused on improving existing systems and building out additional opportunities to house and support youth. Please follow along over the next 65 days to see how this colossal effort continues and how the housing rate increases as we start to implement some of the changes to our youth system.
The City of Spokane’s website will be kept up-to-date with information on the challenge and people can also follow along on the 100 Day journey on social media. The Facebook and Twitter pages are both called “100youth100days” (@100youth100days) and we will be updating it regularly with stories, statistics, and information on how the challenge is going and will be a great way for community members to reach out and show their support for this effort.
Washington’s youth have unlimited potential. They will build tomorrow’s businesses, shape our public policies, and educate the next generation of children. Our youth are the key to our future success. Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” This team of dedicated service providers is aiming to do just that – change the world, one youth at a time!
How can people help?