Youth homelessness impacts nearly 1,500 youth in King County every day.
Increasing at an annual rate of 20% over the past three years, homelessness is an acknowledged state of emergency in King County. Youth make up a significant portion of these numbers. However, services available to youth are notably fewer than those available to other demographics experiencing homelessness.
“Count Us In,” King County’s one-night count of homeless and unstably housed individuals, revealed that there was somewhere around 800-850 youth on the streets in King County, with at least 200-300 of them spending each night in alleyways, under bridges, in cars, or in tents.
“The root cause of youth homelessness is family disruption. We serve young people ages 18 to 24 – folks you would expect to be at home. But the youth we serve don’t have that option,” says Mary Steele of New Horizons.
A common misconception is that youth on the streets are rebellious, headstrong runaways. The truth is that many youths leave home as a means of survival due to physical or sexual abuse. Others are forced out because of rifts between stepparents and children or parents who suffer from substance abuse problems. Many youth age out of foster care or leave juvenile corrections with no place to go. Left with little choice, these young people leave often dangerous homes for dangerous streets and must figure out how to survive with almost no resources or relationships. Nationwide studies reveal:
- One in three youth on the streets has been involved in foster care, sometimes living in 20+ homes by age 18.
- Nationally, over one in four youth who “come out” to their parents as LGBTQ are thrown out of their home.
- Surveys show that between 50-60 percent of homeless youth have been physically or sexually abused in their own home.
Effects of Youth Homelessness
Being homeless has repercussions that can last well beyond transition into sustainability. The more time a young person spends without a stable home, the more difficult success becomes in almost every area of life, even after leaving the streets.
- Exploitation – The streets make youth more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, increasing the risk of disease, injury, and death.
- Arrest – Homeless youth are 2.5X more likely to be arrested as adults when compared with stably housed peers.
- Mental Illness – Homeless youth report higher rates of mental illness symptoms, including depression, PTSD, and anxiety, resulting in increased risk for suicide attempts.
New Horizons (NH) offers programs to facilitate youth’s transition off the streets. From a hot meal and shower to case management and job training, NH meets youth where they are and reconnects them to their God-given potential and empowers them toward success.
Because youth may arrive distraught, disconnected, or disillusioned, NH seeks to be a safe place where they will be accepted for who they are. Inspired by the love of Jesus, NH offers services and love to any and every youth who comes to them in need of assistance, because each person deserves to be loved, seen, known, and respected.
What New Horizons Offers
- Outreach – Teams of staff and volunteers set out on foot to connect with youth around the city to let them know about our services and programs.
- Day Program – Day programs offer the opportunity to explore new interests like writing or music, as well as connect with various community partners. Breakfast served from 8:15 – 9:00am, Monday-Thursday.
- Drop-In – These two hours (Sunday – Thursday. 7:00 – 9:00pm) give youth access to services like a meal, showers, laundry, clothing, and sign-ups for case management & shelter.
- Emergency Shelter – Opened February 2016 in a partnership with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, 22 beds provide a safe place to rest for homeless youth five nights a week. Sunday – Thursday. 9:30pm – 7:30am.
- The Nest – A transitional shelter providing a space for 12 youth to temporarily reside while they search for permanent housing.
- Case Management – Case managers assist with housing placements, employment applications, government documents, and other barriers to exiting the streets.
- Youth Employment Program – Nine-month apprenticeships providing youth a safe opportunity to earn a stipend, learn a hard skill, and develop relevant soft skills for long-term employment.
- Street Bean – Since 2009 Street Bean Coffee Roasters has been New Horizons’ job training partner, training apprentices as baristas and teaching them the basics of roasting and coffee shop operation.
BelPres prayerfully supports the ministry of New Horizons with volunteers, funds, and advocacy. Anyone interested in engaging with NH may contact BelPres’ Community Outreach Director, Tom Brewer