It's an audacious goal: Find a place to live for 100 homeless youth in 100 days.
But that’s exactly what A Place 4 Me, a countywide group of more than 60 organizations and service providers, plans to do by Dec. 18. As one of three programs selected from across the country, A Place 4 Me is getting a boost from the Rapid Results Institute, as part of a national effort to end youth homelessness by 2020
"Youth is not something that communities or even federal leaders focus on as much," says Nadim Matta, president and founding board member of the Rapid Results Institute. "What I saw in Cleveland was pretty remarkable in terms of the openness of their leaders to operate as a group of individuals in leadership positions whose main interest is serving the problem versus advancing their individual organizations or programs."
Over the last year, organizations such as the YWCA Greater Cleveland, Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services and Bellefaire JCB have been steering community efforts to end youth homelessness with an increased focus on foster youth. Now, the 100-day challenge has intensified their work to fast-track and establish housing for homeless young adults.
Currently, FrontLine Services and Bellefaire JCB have identified 107 18- to 24-year-olds in need of housing, including three who have no shelter. Teams are being created to connect these individuals directly to resources. Children and family services has set a Nov. 14 goal to make sure no child in Cuyahoga County will ever again age out of foster care into homelessness.
In the weeks to come, the Emerald Development and Economic Network expects to collaborate with landlords and property owners willing to provide housing to young adults in need of stable housing. A recently acquired $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will also give significant priority for rapid rehousing to this demographic. Although specifics are still in their planning stages, according to Kate Lodge, project director of A Place 4 Me, young adults may be able to have housing supplied and paid for up to five months at a time.
"There's an opportunity here to build some momentum and get more resources," says Lodge. "There are a lot of support services we need to get in there for these people."For more information or to get involved, contact Kate Lodge at 216-881-6878.