Jim Casey Initiative Site Reduces Youth Homelessness

Posted February 7, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
JC Iblog cleveland100 2017

From left: Julie Winegard, Kate Lodge, Megan Gibbard, Margaret Mitchell and Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez.

In exceed­ing its goal of find­ing hous­ing for 100 home­less youths in 100 days, the Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Initiative’s Cleve­land-based site, A Place 4 Me, is set­ting a nation­al exam­ple for how deter­mined peo­ple with cre­ative solu­tions can work to elim­i­nate home­less­ness and strength­en need­ed sup­port sys­tems and ser­vices for young peo­ple in fos­ter care.

Cleve­land has demon­strat­ed that focused atten­tion, cre­ative solu­tions and sus­tained ener­gy can — and do — ensure more young peo­ple in fos­ter care are liv­ing in safe homes,” San­dra Gas­ca-Gon­za­lez, direc­tor of the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive, recent­ly told a group gath­ered in Cleve­land to cel­e­brate the achieve­ment. What was accom­plished, and what con­tin­ues to hap­pen in Cleve­land, has blazed a trail for what is pos­si­ble when com­mit­ted advo­cates, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, and sys­tems work together.”

A Place 4 Me launched its 100-Day Chal­lenge in Sep­tem­ber, join­ing Austin and Los Ange­les as part of a nation­wide effort to end youth home­less­ness. The three cities worked with local part­ners through­out the three-month effort. Nation­al­ly, it is esti­mat­ed that one in five 19-year-olds and 25% of 21-year olds who have expe­ri­enced fos­ter care are home­less. By the end of Decem­ber, Cleve­land had found hous­ing for 103 young peo­ple in fos­ter care.

In Cuya­hoga Coun­ty, there are near­ly 150 young peo­ple who age out of the fos­ter care sys­tem each year. We know these young peo­ple are most at risk for fac­ing home­less­ness or hav­ing an unsta­ble hous­ing sit­u­a­tion; in fact, 40% are like­ly to expe­ri­ence some hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty by the time they reach 24 years old,” Kate Lodge, project direc­tor of A Place 4 Me, said in a state­ment. Young peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness face near­ly insur­mount­able obsta­cles to find and keep employ­ment and build and main­tain fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships, which is why we are pour­ing our efforts into pre­vent­ing and end­ing youth homelessness.”

A Place 4 Me col­lab­o­rat­ed with more than 30 com­mu­ni­ty part­ners to help young peo­ple with rapid re-hous­ing, liv­ing with fam­i­ly or friends, rent­ing on their own, per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing or pub­lic hous­ing. They also cre­at­ed a plan for home­less­ness pre­ven­tion through a track­ing and mon­i­tor­ing system.

Your work illus­trates the inno­va­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and ele­va­tion that is hap­pen­ing among all of our Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive sites,” Gas­ca-Gon­za­lez said. As you all con­tin­ue in this work, know that you are mak­ing an extra­or­di­nary dif­fer­ence in the lives of young peo­ple, not only in Cleve­land, but across the nation as you have set an exam­ple for oth­er com­mu­ni­ties to follow.”

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