For more than 20 years, our team at Catholic Charities Hope Street Shelter for Youth has helped thousands of youth find stability and future success. Funding to support youth experiencing homelessness has been reduced significantly in recent years. Check out this letter to the editor from Keith Kozerski, which was recently published in the Star Tribune to learn more.
Each night, nearly 5,000 Minnesota young people are without a home. It is a heartbreaking fact that young people experiencing homelessness are statistically more likely to experience poverty, abuse, racism, and homophobia — destabilizing traumas that can last into adulthood.
Last year, Catholic Charities Hope Street Shelter for Youth supported 360 Hennepin County young people seeking shelter. Along with a safe place to sleep, we provide food, clothing and medical care while trying to de-escalate the homelessness crisis at hand, helping people get back to a more stable foundation. While we only have a short time with them, we provide as much support as possible to prevent homelessness from becoming their future. Unfortunately, we are forced to turn away almost 1,000 young people each year because we lack resources to support them.
Minnesota must do better. The Homeless Youth Act is a proven investment to address the state’s youth homelessness crisis. It supports young people who would otherwise go to large single-adult shelters or stay on the streets, and it offers providers like us the flexibility to tailor services to the unique needs of young people. Like other investments in the state’s shelter system, however, funding has not met the scale of the urgent situation.
With the budget surplus, Minnesota has an opportunity to make bold investments to disrupt trends in homelessness. The Homeless Youth Act is one of them, and by supporting the most vulnerable in our community, we can all help architect a future of stability and opportunity for thousands of homeless young people.
Keith Kozerski, Minneapolis
Keith is responsible for the eight programs that make up our Child & Family Services Division. He guides our early childhood education efforts at Northside Child Development Center and the programming at our Children’s Mental Health Day Treatment Program co-located within Minneapolis Public Schools. Keith also directs our work with youth experiencing homelessness at Hope Street for Homeless Youth’s Shelter, Transitional Living Program and Permanent Supportive Housing Program. He also supports the staff working with families experiencing homelessness at the Family Service Center and Coordinated Access to Housing and Diversion Programs. Keith also engages in advocacy for children and families as being an Executive Committee Member of the Board of AspireMN, a statewide association of providers working with children and families.