City officials are taking a major step in fighting Philadelphia’s youth homelessness crisis. On Monday, members of City Council and the Director of the Office of Homeless Services announced $700,000 in new funding would go toward expanding initiatives to end youth homelessness in Philly.
Throughout the year, city council members held hearings on youth homelessness with Mayor Jim Kenney's administration to work toward providing additional resources to address the crisis.
One of the hearings, which took place on April 28, opened with a three-minute clip from Faces of Homeless Youth, an in-depth report by NBC10 published and aired late last year that explored youth homelessness through the eyes of young people who are currently or who have been homeless.
“Philadelphia has the highest rate of millennials of any major city, and we must keep them here by providing opportunities, jobs, resources, services and most importantly a roof over their heads,” said Councilman Allan Domb (At Large), Chair of the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless. “Awarding these much needed funds puts our City on the right track towards achieving that goal.”
Every year, hundreds of young people in Philadelphia between the ages of 18 and 24 don't have a place to call home. Though social service agencies concede the numbers could be much higher as the youth may be embarrassed to say they're homeless.
Further complicating the issue, those who come forward for temporary housing could be turned away. Currently, Philadelphia has 439 beds for homeless youth 18 and older. City officials and advocates say the number is much lower than necessary.
“These new funds will enable the Youth Homelessness Collaborative to expand the youth homeless system by 12 percent,” said Liz Hersh, Director of the Office of Homeless Services. “That’s a great down-payment on addressing this problem. We have the opportunity to change the future history of young people through employment and training, education and social services all anchored by a safe place to live.”
Officials also formed the Coalition to End Youth Homelessness which is made up of five aid agencies dedicated to expanding the capacity of the city’s homeless youth system.
“This effort, which has been a long time coming, proves that Philadelphia doesn't need to wait for change from above — we can and are making change in the lives of our children and youth right here, right now,” At Large Councilwoman Helen Gym said.