100-Day Challenges tackle youth homelessness

Communities in King, Pierce, and Spokane counties are working to address youth homelessness with A Way Home Washington’s 100-Day Challenges.

The Challenges began on April 20 and each community is focusing on different goals.

King County communities will focus on reducing the number of unsheltered youth and accelerating housing placement.

“This Challenge is an opportunity for all of us, as a community, to acknowledge and come together in addressing the issues facing young people who do not have a safe and stable place to call home,” said Catherine Lester, Director, Department of Human Services for the City of Seattle. “It is going to take all of us — government, nonprofit agencies, philanthropy, and caring adults — to work together. If we can do that, we can leverage each other’s perspectives and experiences in finding innovative options and solutions for helping our young people.”

Pierce County communities plan to significantly reduce the number of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. They also plan to work on diverting youth from the criminal justice system.

“The City of Tacoma is committed to proactive, long-term solutions to address youth and young adult homelessness,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “Ending homelessness will take a holistic approach to address affordable housing needs, sheltering and service delivery to help young people experiencing homelessness overcome barriers and be successful.”

Spokane County communities will help ensure that at-risk youth exit institutions, like the foster care system, treatment facilities, and juvenile justice system, with a place to live so they do not fall into homelessness.

“Spokane is very excited to participate in the 100-Day Challenges,” said Dawn Kinder, City of Spokane, Housing & human Services Director. “We see this as opportunity to learn from other communities, increase local awareness of youth homelessness, and ultimately improve our services and housing options for young people. While Spokane has seen substantial decreases in family homelessness, and developed successful coordinated entry systems for families and adults without children, the sense of urgency the 100-Day Challenges bring will support our vision and cement our plans to end youth homelessness in Spokane County.”

All three counties will receive support from Rapid Results Institute, who will facilitate workshops and provide coaching.

The challenges are funded by the Schultz Family Foundation and the Raikes Foundation.

There are more than 13,000 unaccompanied homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 24 in Washington, according to A Way Home Washington.

A Way Home America has hosted 100-Day Challenges in Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. Almost 1,500 young adults were assessed for housing and 428 young adults were moved into housing.

The Morning Wire: Keeping you informed on Washington politics, policy, and political economy