A local friend recently posted an anti-homelessness rant after finding dirty needles down by the Boulder creek. I get it—he has children to protect.
But let’s keep in mind: America does not have a social safety net, folks fall through it, and then don’t have public restrooms (as they do seemingly everywhere, in Europe) let alone sufficient detox treatment centers.
As a society, we need to deal with everything, not just play the blame game from behind gated communities. We could actually pay for job training, therapy, and even apartments for its homeless population and actually save money.
We can’t merely ignore, condemn, or push away homelessness or drug use and addiction and expect there not to be issues. ~ Waylon Lewis, ed.
In the US of A, 1 in 10 young adults experience some form of homelessness during any given year.
This is why in Boulder, Colorado, we at Attention Homes have long worked to provide prevention, intervention, and various solutions for youth between the ages of 12-24 facing homelessness.
A current client of Attention Homes, who we will call YS, found us after his parents had to leave the country; leaving him and his brother suddenly without a home and living out of their car.
He was 18 at the time. Immediately after he knocked on the door of Attention Homes’ Emergency Shelter in Boulder, YS felt surrounded by people who cared and truly listened to him. While at Attention Homes, staff saw incredible motivation and commitment to following his dreams and goals. He worked towards his GED and worked with our Housing Programs Manager to move from the emergency shelter to working full-time and living in an apartment independently with his brother.
With a Residential Program for youth ages 12-18 who are removed from their homes, an Emergency Shelter for youth ages 12-20, Drop-In Center for youth ages 12-24, Street Outreach Program and wraparound supportive services; Attention Homes serves over 500 individuals each year in Boulder County.
The top 3 factors in Youth Homelessness:
- Aging out of the Foster Care System.
- Family Conflict.
- Lack of Affordable Housing.
In the United States, there is a shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low income renter households. In Boulder, if you’re renting in the market and don’t have a housing voucher, the average low income renter is spending 72% of income on housing costs.
That’s way too much.
Looking at this problem way back in 2015, Attention Homes resolved to create Colorado’s first non-time-limited supportive housing community for young adults, ages 18-24, experiencing homelessness.
We knew someone needed to provide a housing solution due to the lack of affordable housing in the area. The housing we’ve worked to create will be home to 40 young tenants, support young people who do not have family support, provide employment opportunities and education, and help with independent living skills.
The Housing First model is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to people to avoid returning to homelessness. This model has proven to work: we toured similar projects across the country and learned with service providers, property managers, architects—and young tenants.
Each conversation had a consistent theme: with access to affordable housing and supportive services, young adults can thrive.
Today the Attention Homes Apartments are just a few months away from their doors opening to 40 formerly homeless young adults, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re honored to serve in aiding the trajectory of somebody’s life. We can also work to change our community’s perspectives on these kinds of housing projects. We’re in downtown Boulder, right in the middle of an affluent neighborhood. We’re bringing an opportunity for young people to be a part of this community—and, together, to change how we see and work to solve youth homelessness.
Inspired? Learn more here.