Can homeless youth and runaway programs really help the by mensahbansu


									A proposal by using effective communication to help Homeless Youth and Runaways achieve their goals to
                                          get off the streets

Homelessness in America

        We see homeless people on the streets everyday. Homelessness has been

a constant problem and worry for Americans for the last hundred years. The

problem is a serious one and some might be surprised to see who the homeless

are. According to The National Coalition for the Homeless, “Single men

compromise 51 percent of the homeless population, families with children 30

percent, single women 17 percent and unaccompanied youth 2 percent” (NCH

1). This shows us that there are so many types of homeless people trying to

survive on the streets. Many people think the homeless are lazy drug addicts or

alcoholics but the fact is, “between 25 percent and 40 percent of the homeless

population are employed” (Road Home 4). This shows us that many of the

homeless are trying to pull themselves out of poverty. Others are seeking help

from shelters and assistance programs to improve their situations.

             Homeless Youth out wondering the city streets
      With the shelters taking surveys to assess the amount of people

experiencing homelessness we can get a good idea of the situation. The

problem is that not all homeless people use the resources provided. One of the

reasons for this is the lack of shelters and program assistance in rural areas.

Since there are lacking resources, “many people in homeless situations are

forced to live with relatives and friends in crowded, temporary arrangements”

(NCH 2). With shelter being provided by family and friends, many of these

homeless people are not counted in the surveys. This is also gives us a good

idea for all the unaccompanied youth who are NOT using the shelters and

programs provided.

         Homeless youth having a cigarette

Getting with the Program
Chronic homelessness

      The programs for homeless vary with the types of homelessness being

experienced. My two main concerns are with Chronic Homelessness and

Homeless Youth and Runaways. I think that many kids on the streets, if left to
survive on their own, will either result in death or will eventually become part

of the chronic homeless population. According to The Urban Institute,

“Experiences away from one’s childhood family also may be risk factors for

adult homelessness” (Urban 1). In order to end chronic homelessness we need

to address homelessness within the youth community.

Homeless Youth and runaways

      One of the biggest populations within homeless groups is the youth.

Many of these youth are with families, but not all of them. Some of these kids

are runaways or throwaways. With so many of these youth’s the problems at

home caused them to move to the streets. This can make it very hard to gain

trust with them and that much harder to help them.

      Most homeless runaways getting reunited with their families, we know

that some of the programs in place for the youth are working. The transitional

programs help the kids get back with their families or into a positive youth

program like Job Corp. By offering residency, food and education to these

youths they will be more prepared for the world on their own. These programs

are successful for the youth looking for help but what about the other kids. The

ones couch surfing or squatting in abandoned buildings; how are they being


      Currently, there are three types of programs being run in the United

States. The Basic center program offers temporary shelter for runaways and

helps the youth get back together with their families. According to the

Department of Health and Human Services, “approximately 60 percent of the
youth served by these programs are able to be reunited…” (HHS 3). This is

proof that this program is helping with the homeless youth situation. The street

outreach program is supposed to reach kids on the streets by offering help with

protecting themselves and getting support. The HHS states that we need to,

“reach kids on the street as quickly as possible, before they have spent more

than two months on the street” (HHS 3). The reason for this is youths living on

the street longer have a harder time surviving.

      Homeless youth sleeping in ally

A New, New Way

      These programs are working to help thousands of teenagers and young

adults around the country. The problem is many kids don’t even bother getting

help with these programs and are often couch surfing or squatting. These

youths are hard to reach because they are not always aware of the help

available to them. This lack of presence is exactly why so many are lost.

The Proposal

      We don’t have to lose all of them. I think with more interesting

approaches with advertising will help us connect with the youth and can make
a difference. Making the program more appealing than drugs or crime is the

key. Using images and music they are interested and drawn to will help, but

also displaying the advertisements in places the youth are going to see it.

Offering musical venues and free classes by advertising in legal graffiti, flyering

coffee shops, universities, music stores, liquor stores and any place these kids

spend time hanging out is the best way to reach them.

       This may seem a bit strange to do but with these youths looking cool

might be interesting enough. Offering a place to hang out that offers education

information on sexual exploitation, AIDS, and drug abuse are things all of these

kids need. If we incorporate this educational information with music, books,

magazines, art, comics, the performing arts, creative writing classes and a

music venue it will become more approachable to the youth. Adding to this laid

back atmosphere allows an open setting for council and support. Offering

optional one on one-therapy and law education classes helps the youth have

the support they need and the necessary information to make better decisions.

Also, by having a safe place to hang out and free use of the Internet makes this

proposal more likely to work. Friendly greetings and lots of entertainment to

look at and participate in will make these youths more likely to come back. I

understand that this program will take more time than others but I think that

their lives are worth it.

       It is the best solution for these youths because the only other solution

they have is to fend for themselves on the streets by doing drugs, living with

AIDS or tuberculosis, being raped or beaten, or having severe mental problems
or depression. Nothing really exists for homeless youth who have been on the

streets for more than two months. I believe in offering all the resources that

are available in the other programs including: support, temporary living and

assistance to finding permanent living, reuniting these kids with their families

if possible, job resources, and rehab and therapy to those who have seen the

rough side of the streets. By offering these kids this kind of help and showing

them that making a change in their lives is possible is the easy part. The

hardest part is getting them interested in the program and how it can help


        Seeking out or coming into the program is definitely on their terms. That

is why making it easier to find makes it more likely to work. Allowing them the

freedoms to choose their own involvement in the programs will open them up

to a better future. By showing them what they can do and leaving them to

think about their choices will hopefully bring these kids into a brighter future

and a much longer and safer life.

     Homeless youth posing for the camera

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