Make A Miracle Happen For Homeless Youth

Make A Miracle Happen For Homeless Youth

By: Amanda Fox

The homeless youth situation in America is nothing to look past. Only Romania (and arguably Africa as a whole) has a statistically bigger problem with the amount of homeless youth in their country, and if that doesn’t serve as a wake-up call we don’t know what will. This year, Spicie has partnered with Black Iron Kisses to raise awareness of the problem in the greater Los Angeles area and in particular an organization that is serving homeless youth, S.P.Y. (Safe Place for Youth).

We’ve been over the problems these young people face on the streets: Substance abuse, physical harm, mental and emotional damage, exploitation, trafficking and death. Young people on the streets are particularly prone to engaging in survival sex, where they trade their body for a meal, some clothes, maybe a few dollars or a “safe” place to sleep for the night. On average, better than 13 kids die on the streets in the US each day due to assault, illness, or suicide. This is something we should be ashamed of.

 
Today, we don’t want to talk about all the pitfalls of being on the street or all the possible scenarios surrounding how kids get there. The harsh reality is, once they are there, that is where they are in far too many cases. What we need to focus on is getting them off the streets and that means money. Money is always the key it seems. What we need are programs that are funded properly so that when people talk about the youth homlessness problem on a global scale, there is no excuse for a nation like the US to be ranked amongst the most problematic.

 
MONEY

 
It is all about the Benjamins – or Jacksons, Grants, Lincolns or whatever else can be scrounged up. We want to be clear – without money, the problem does not get fixed and the government has not be effective in assessing the need or funding the solution. It is up to all of us to do it. People filled with care that may have no reason to give, but they do it anyway because they know it is right. Look at the issue in California for example. Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, stated concerning the homeless youth population; “Our state has no coordinated program to address their needs, leaving them invisible and underserved,”.

 

Here’s the facts. There are some 15,000 homeless youth in the greater Los Angeles area each night. There are only about 1,000 beds available for them. That means 14,000 kids, give or take, are out on their own each night. Money is needed to get them indoors at night. Give them a place to wash. Somewhere to lay their head down where they don’t have to worry about bugs crawling on or even into them or worse – abuse from other people. That’s reality. Money is what it takes to get them indoors at night. Period.

The bigger question is how do we get them off the streets and keep them off the streets.

 

In 2011, California Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), which is a key agency in addressing the homeless youth problem in California, had a budget of less that $500,000 for the year. There are an estimated 200,000 homeless youth in the state. That’s not even $2.50 per child assuming that all of it wouldn’t be eaten up by infrastructure costs and the general evaporation of funds that seems to happen so often between funds getting from point A to point B. Aside from commissioning some studies and figuring out how many homeless youth there are, little else was done really.  Shelters closed statewide due to lack of funding. More children went homeless. Nowhere near enough answers were found. Yes, some of the overall state budget money for the homeless does wind up serving homeless youth, but it is nowhere near enough to provide for their special needs which are far different from adults and can greatly reduce recidivism.

 

As individuals, we need to step up and do what we can. Help the programs that are not only helping kids get off the street for a night, but getting them off the streets for good. If you can spare just a few dollars you CAN make a difference. The Average American spends $3.00/day on coffee. By giving the equivalent of 1 day of coffee to homeless youth, you have exceeded the CEMA budget per homeless child. A week’s worth would provide a homeless youth with a decent enough sleeping bag to protect them self against at least some of the elements when they are sleeping outdoors at night which is where most wind up.

 

This is a season of thanks and good will toward all – particularly children. About 42% of all homeless youth are under the age of 5. Many likely still believe in the magic of Christmas and miracles. Show them a miracle. Not me, or the guys at the office or people that have enough – give those innocents a real miracle! Donate your time, donate food and clothing, donate hygiene products and all of those wonderful things they need – but give the money to the programs that can help keep them safe while they are on the streets while they work to get them off those very same streets. This may be the only time we say, money can buy a miracle, because every time one of these kids gets off the streets and stays off, in many ways, it is a miracle.

 

During Homeless Youth Awareness Month, we implore you to help spread the word about not only this issue but S.P.Y. (Safe Place for Youth) in Venice Beach, CA, which helps provide assistance to some of the 15,000 plus homeless youth in the Los Angeles area. Share this with your friends, Give to S.P.Y. or a Black Iron Christmas to benefit these children if you can. All we ask is that you do what you can for these children who deserve so much better than the situation they are in. Give them hope and love and yes, support these organizations financially if you can. Every little bit makes a difference.

S.P.Y.
S.P.Y.
Black Iron Kisses Fundraiser For S.P.Y

Thank you for your time and any assistance you provide to this or any other homeless youth program.

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  1. Such a powerful testimony to see how we can each make a difference. I am so concerned about the short sighted budget cuts in many of the social service support areas. If we can help these kids early, I am confident that the total cost to our society will be much lower. That is just an ROI argument not even considering the moral issue.

    • AmandaFox says:

      You’re completely correct from that perspective Howard. If we help these children right away, the odds are that we can prevent them from becoming chronically homeless. Of course, morally, it is the thing we need to do. Homelessness itself is upsetting, but when it is children, it’s tragic. Sadly, the government doesn’t do very much to address the special needs that are required to help many of the youth on the streets so it falls on us, as a society, to step in and do it. We hope that this holiday season some of the people we reach will help in whatever way they can. Thank you for helping spread the word.

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