November is National Runaway Prevention Month, a public awareness campaign designed to “Shine a Light” on the experiences of runaway and homeless youth that too often remain invisible. It is also an opportunity to spotlight the resources available to support youth in crisis throughout the nation. As part of the campaign, individuals, organizations and communities across the nation are encouraged to work together to prevent youth homelessness.
Nightly in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth experience homelessness. These young people are not homeless by choice. The disparity between the available resources and the number of youth needing assistance is stunning. The latest Wilder Research survey showed a 10% increase in homelessness since 2015 and the highest number of homeless in the 30-year history of the study. Youth make up nearly half (46%) of the homeless population in Minnesota.
“Nationwide, more than 1.6 million young people are homeless on their own. Growing up is hard enough without having to face it alone and on the streets, vulnerable to predators and violence. November is National Runaway Prevention Month and as the Executive Director of the Bridge, I know that if we can intervene early and prevent youth from running away, we can prevent youth from joining the 1.6 million youth who are homeless. Please join me in re-tweeting, sharing, promoting and talking about this message and the importance of helping to prevent youth from running away. Raise your voice, raise awareness, raise the hope of a positive future for all youth.”
– Michelle Basham, Bridge for Youth, Executive Director
Since 1970, The Bridge for Youth has provided emergency shelter and other vital services for runaway and homeless youth. Open 24 hours a day, The Bridge is the only direct-access shelter for youth under 18 years old in the Twin Cities. At the core of all our programming is preventing and ending youth homelessness. The youth we serve have experienced significant disparities in securing their basic needs, from shelter and safety to health care and educational opportunity. Last year, 28% of youth seeking shelter at The Bridge had been hospitalized for mental health issues, 26% had inflicted self-harm, and 19% had attempted suicide. Over 75% of those served by The Bridge were youth of color.
About The Bridge for Youth:
The Bridge for Youth is a safe place for those with no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth serves homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth, ages 10-17. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and long term shelter, individual and family counseling, and weekly support groups. www.bridgeforyouth.org
Christina Woodlee, Associate Director