Meet Crystal, 19, and her 4-month old son Ben. Ben has never had a home to call his own until last week when he and his mom moved into their own apartment thanks to the collaboration of many community partners through the 100-Day Challenge on Youth Homelessness.
Crystal is so relieved to have her own place because in two weeks Ben will be having heart surgery. “Having my own apartment means a future for my son,” she says. “I was so worried I was going to lose him. But now I know he has a roof over his head, a bed. Now I can provide for him.”
On August 1, the Coalition for the Homeless (1300 S. 4th Street, Suite 250) and a team of local service providers, community leaders, and government members launched the 100-Day Challenge, a project with an ambitious goal to end homelessness for at least 100 young adults in the community by November 8, 2017.
In 2016, there were 443 homeless young adults (age 18-24) in Louisville, plus an additional 450 youth below age 18 served by YMCA Safe Place Services of Louisville, for a total of 893 unaccompanied homeless youth.
Thus far, safe housing and support services have been secured for 80 young adults, but in order to reach their 100-Day Challenge goal by November 8, the team is asking for help from the Louisville community.
Growing National Movement
100-Day Challenges are part of a growing national movement to prevent and end youth homelessness in America. In Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, 413 young people exited homelessness and were housed in just 100 days—exceeding the original goals they had set at the start of their journey.
Building on the success of those three cities who made remarkable progress last fall, A Way Home America (AWHA) announced last spring that Louisville was selected as one of the next five cities (others are Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Hennepin County, Minn.; and Palm Beach County, Fla.) to participate in the 100-Day Challenge.
The 100-Day Challenge is designed to stimulate intense collaboration, innovation, and execution, all in pursuit of an ambitious goal to end homelessness for a large number of young people in our community.
Thus far, Louisville’s 100-Day Challenge has resulted in a 500 percent increase in the rate at which homeless young adults are housed. The partners have created new and deeper collaborations with LMPD to identify and help homeless, vulnerable, and truant youth in the southern and western parts of the city.
At the end of the challenge, AWHA will highlight the team’s collaboration with Jefferson County Public Schools by identifying the number of housed youth who were previously homeless students.
Community members can help by donating to fund deposits, application fees, and furniture for newly-housed youth; hiring or mentoring a homeless or disconnected young person, and advocating for more funding for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
In addition, landlords can rent housing to a homeless person with a voucher and supportive services (contact John Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).