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Homeless youth in suburbia
November 20, 2012

Last week, I learned about a teenager—I’ll call him Carl—who is sleeping in his car in Bloomington.

Carl moves his car every night to avoid attracting attention. For reasons he doesn’t want to talk about, returning home isn’t a good idea. It’s been challenging, but it’s been working for him…until now. His car broke down last week. And it’s getting colder. There’s no shelter, no housing for Carl in the suburbs.

So why am I filled with hope? Because when I heard that story from Leslie Stiles of Oasis for Youth, I was with clergy and leaders of 28 congregations who want to improve Carl’s chances of finding home. They were invited by Beacon and Edina Community Lutheran Church to join with us to create supportive housing for homeless young adults in the suburbs. The key word is “supportive” – because Carl needs not only a safe place to live, but focused support from caring adults to help him finish school, get a job and hopefully, talk about what happened at home that was so bad.

I am filled with hope because I could feel the energy of the spirit moving among those diverse congregations that gathered from Eden Prairie, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Edina, Richfield and nearby communities.

Turning our vision of housing for up to 40 young people into reality will take years. Desire isn’t the challenge – those 80 people who heard Carl’s story want to create homes for homeless youth. Knowledge is not the problem – we know that supportive housing is a highly effective model.

What will build a home for Carl and others like him? A balance of public and private funding not only to build a structure but to provide the ongoing comprehensive services that homeless young people need. Right now there is virtually no public funding available.

Our next steps? We’ll be gathering support to:

  1. Fully fund the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act – that would take $8 million appropriated by the state legislature next year. This would fund the services needed now.
  2. Identify the best location for this housing and to organize a “Yes, In My Backyard” campaign of community support.
  3. Secure $8 million in capital financing and public approvals for the housing.

Your next step? Stay on top of this issue by staying in touch with us. Sign up for Building Home, our monthly e-newsletter, follow us on Twitter @BelieveInHome, or Facebook. And let us know how you want to be involved.

- Lee Blons, Executive Director

Lee and the Board of Directors set the strategic direction of the organization to effectively accomplish our mission of developing affordable housing.  Lee is responsible for the organization...