"I didn't have anyone in my corner," recalls Reggie, 21, of his life after his mother died when he was 10 years old. After years of "couch surfing" with relatives and friends, Reggie found his way to LAYC's extended housing program. The nine-month transitional living program helps youth who are homeless or unstably housed. Through this program, Reggie lives in a studio apartment, meets weekly with a case manager, and receives wrap-around services. In his time, Reggie has explored going into the Army and is contemplating a career in computer science.
For many homeless youth like Reggie, LAYC provides the caring adults and supportive environment to concentrate on educational and career goals rather than shelter, food, and safety.
As we approach the cooler months of the year, we need your renewed commitment to ending youth homelessness in the District of Columbia. Will you help us keep homeless youth safe and warm through the fall and into winter?
With your support, LAYC is able to help youth like Reggie get the services they need to make a successful transition to young adulthood. Please consider making a generous donation to our project, and tell your friends. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of homeless and runaway youth who need our services.
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It has been an exciting and busy few months for LAYC’s Safe Housing program! In June, the Safe Housing participants and staff joined a group from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Ali Forney Center to a rally in New York City to launch the National Campaign for Youth Shelter. This is a collaboration that will build a grassroots campaign to demand a national response to youth homelessness. During the rally, LAYC youth and staff listened to short speeches by leaders in the LGBT movement and the movement to end youth homelessness. The youth also had the opportunity to be interviewed for Lost in America, a documentary that gives homeless youth a platform to talk about their experiences.
One of these youth is Joni, 21. Joni has been an LAYC participant for six years. At 15, her mother put her out on the street when she learned Joni was gay. Joni took the train from South Carolina to DC with her girlfriend. Soon after arriving in the city, Joni fainted (she did not know she had high blood pressure) and checked herself into an emergency room. The hospital contacted the local authorities, and that is how Joni became a participant in LAYC’s Safe Housing program. In the last six years, Joni has taken advantage of every opportunity to learn and experience new things, including participating in community service, GED classes, and job training. Today, Joni lives in LAYC’s LGBT transitional housing program and is weeks from sitting for GED and customer service certification exams. She plans to go to college and major in business administration.
LGBT youth are disproportionately over-represented in the homeless youth population, with as many as 40% of the nation's homeless youth being LGBT, while only 5% of the overall youth population is LGBT.
With your support, LAYC is able to help youth like Joni get the services they need to make a successful transition to young adulthood. Please consider making a generous donation to our project, and tell your friends. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of homeless and runaway LGBT youth and all youth who need our services.
Spring is here, and LAYC's street outreach program is busy with lots of new clients and some exciting new partnerships. During the winter, we averaged 30 homeless and runaway youth per month, and your support ensured they received emergency shelter, food, and the supports they needed to work their way back to their families or find stable housing.
We are happy to share that we have a new partnership with DC Diaper Bank, which works to provide an adequate and reliable supply of diapers to babies, toddlers, and their families in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Our very own street outreach case manager Jorge Cabrera picked up 5,000 diapers for the program's young parents. “Many of our families do not have enough money for diapers, and sometimes some of our youth have to choose between diapers and food,” noted Jorge.
In the next few months, we will start a partnership with a local Wal-Mart store that will donate surplus supplies to our program every two weeks, such as shampoo, clothing, and non-perishable food items.
Thank you for your continued support of our work to keep homeless and runaway youth safe and on a path to self-sufficiency.
We are pleased to share with you the story of one of the youth we've worked with the past three months. Jonathan Williams is a happy, thriving young man with a loving and supportive family. At 21, he is high school graduate with dreams of flying planes for the Air Force. Just three months ago, Jonathan had been homeless for six years. After Jonathan's mother passed away when he was 15 and no father in his life, he learned how to survive on the streets.
Today, a couple in Prince George’s County in Maryland is Jonathan's loving and supportive family. The family participates in LAYC's transitional living program, an 18-month host home for homeless youth 16-22 years of age. LAYC found Jonathan through its street outreach program and within a few weeks, Jonathan was enrolled in LAYC's case management services, receiving the supports he needs, and stably housed. Jonathan is now able to be a young person exploring his career and educational goals. For example, the program connected Jonathan with an Air Force recruiter and a program alum who served in the military. Jonathan is also exploring a career in construction management, has applied for admission to Price George’s County Community College, and he is working on an application for a New Futures Scholarship.
The youth we serve, advocate for, and care about depend on us to believe in them and their dreams, and most of all to give them a chance. On any given night, the District of Columbia has an estimated 500 homeless youth; virtually all of them are on the street through no fault of their own. This is why we do our work, so that homeless youth can have a stable place to live, a good support network, and are able to improve their lives.
Thank you for your continued support of our project. Please consider making a generous donation to our project this holiday season.
P.S. Watch Jonathan discuss how he became homeless in this video produced by community partner DC Alliance of Youth Advocates.
Summer months are particularly busy months for the Street Outreach Program. Over the past three months, the program reached roughly 120 youth. One of those youth is Ziggy. Ziggy is a young woman who identifies as LGBTQ and expressed that she had had problems with her family due to her sexual orientation. Ziggy had been staying in friends’ houses (couch surfing), in the streets, and in buses. Like many youth in her situation, she did not feel comfortable going to adult homeless shelters given her sexual orientation. LAYC placed Ziggy in a transitional living program, and she is now focused on going back to school and finishing high school. Ziggy is a charismatic young woman with immense potential. She is an avid participant in LAYC’s social group for LGBTQ youth where she is an educator for LGBTQ rights. Watch Ziggy in Why We Count: Homeless Youth in America, by LAYC community partner The Urban Alliance.
Your donations and overall support help make these much needed services available to the youth like Ziggy who are most in need. Our dedicated staff works hard every day to connect these young people to the best available resources so that their cycle of homelessness can end and the opportunity for stability and self-sufficiency is possible. Thank you so much for your support and please spread the word about LAYC's Street Outreach Program.
LAYC is excited to announce that we will be implementing a new transitional living program starting this fall. This program will target homeless or runaway youth between the ages of 18-24 who identify as LGBTQ. Services for this population of homeless or runaway youth are particularly warranted given their high numbers and lack of shelters and programs geared towards their specific needs. Participants will live in single occupancy apartments for up to nine months and receive supports to meet personal, educational, and career goals, and ultimately transition to stable housing.
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