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A tale of two suburbs
March 26, 2015

Families and youth experience homelessness in some of our country’s wealthiest communities – including many of our Twin Cities suburbs. Yet it is arguably more difficult to escape poverty and homelessness in the suburbs, because people feel pressure to hide their situation, and fewer resources are accessible. 

Our collaborative of congregations recognizes this gap. That’s why we are working to develop housing and support for teens and families in the western Hennepin County suburbs including 66 West in Edina and Wayzata Family Housing. We've selected the articles below, to offer perspective and personal accounts about the problem, its impact and possible solutions.

Making connections to serve homeless youth, by Anna Pratt, Star Tribune, Feb. 10, 2015

West Hennepin youth resource forum drew 225 teachers, coaches, caseworkers and others to share tips and teach the signs of possible youth homelessness – poor school attendance and drop in academic performance are two of them.

“Poverty is easier to hide in the suburbs, simply because there is more geographic area and less concentrated poverty.”

  • Scott Zemke, executive director, Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin

The Real Homeless of Wayzata High, by Susan Du, CityPages, March 25, 2015

Teens in the suburbs, lacking other resources, sometimes turn to makeshift “families” to find shelter and sense of belonging. Article profiles Crystal (in photo above, by Emily Utne), a former Wayzata High School student who experienced homelessness, and her friends and those who have helped her along the way.

"These are kids who don't have a place to live, who are trying to make it day by day, and they're still making it to school, they're still trying to find work. They're still able to pass their classes. I don't have a clue how I would do that."

  • Sarah Klouda, former Teens Alone caseworker

Poor kids of Silicon Valley, by John D. Sutter, CNN Opinion, March 2015

Features video, photos and reportage from Silicon Valley, one of America’s wealthiest regions where poverty and family homelessness are hidden in plain sight. A family of four lives in a shelter even though both parents work; a two-bedroom bungalow is home for 11 people including a 16-year-old girl whose bedroom is the garage; a tent city exists in the middle of San Jose, a stone’s throw from Google, Facebook and Apple headquarters.

“It’s a tale of two valleys.”

  • Poncho Guevara, ED of Sacred Heart Community Services