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A tarp is not a home
October 28, 2013

I’m holding a piece of blue tarp in my hand. I heard that last summer Streetworks Collaborative ran out of tents to give to young people who had no place to sleep in the western suburbs. So they started handing out tarps. How is this possible in our society with such abundance, in which most kids are worried about how to pay for their prom outfit or new soccer shoes?

Why do you think young people are homeless?  I hear many good answers when I pose this question in the community: Young people are homeless because they had to run away from abuse. They were kicked out because of their sexual orientation. They didn’t know who to ask for help.

All true. Yet I was stopped cold when Erik Scheurle, a housing taskforce leader with Edina Community Lutheran Church (ECLC), our partner congregation, said, “Young people are homeless because we allow it.”

So I was thrilled when 80 community leaders from the western suburbs joined us last week to say: “We won’t allow it!” They came to support the west metro youth housing we’re creating with ECLC.

You may know that we have created Nicollet Square in Minneapolis - and that we are in the process of creating Prior Crossing in St. Paul.  I realize that as we succeed, it can start to sound easy – “Beacon is going to be building youth housing in the western suburbs.” In reality, this undertaking is extraordinarily challenging. It will take significant public and private funds, at least 2 or 3 years, community support and public will.

I want you to know that we need your help to be successful.

Here are three actions you can take now to make this housing happen:

  1. If you live in the western suburbs, will you sign our online endorsement?
  2. Will you become a Beacon Citizen and join our collective advocacy to keep the need for affordable and supportive housing funds before our state legislature. Being a Beacon Citizen is simple and rewarding and we let you know the impact of your actions each step of the way.
  3. Will you help us leverage public funds? Contributions from individuals like you, from congregations, foundations and corporations are needed to make this housing a reality. (It takes $250,000 a year in private funds alone to operate supportive housing.) When public funders see there’s strong investment by private sources, they’re more likely to prioritize a project for approval. Therefore, your donation is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Homeless youth can’t wait. Help us build their futures today.

Lee Blons
Lee Blons is Beacon's executive director.