No young person should ever have to go without a home. Yet for thousands of youth in our state, this is an everyday reality. In Washington state alone, 13,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 are on their own – accessing housing and support services each year.
In 2015, Washington state took a huge step forward to improve the lives of the thousands of young people in our communities who have fallen into homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness through the passage of the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act. This landmark piece of legislation provides new focus and coordination from our state government partners to develop a plan to help young people who are struggling on their own and need extra support to thrive.
Yet we know there is more work to be done. If we want to prevent homeless youth from becoming homeless adults, we need to change the way we think about this critical issue.
That’s why the Campion Foundation is excited to announce the launch of A Way Home Washington – a growing movement dedicated to preventing and ending youth homelessness in Washington state. A Way Home Washington is working to do this by raising awareness about the barriers youth face, building strong and connected networks to help youth overcome these hurdles, and working with local communities to develop solutions that meet their unique needs and circumstances.
A Way Home Washington is working to do this through:
- Awareness: We are committed to shedding light on the often overlooked reality of youth homelessness – changing perceptions about homelessness and helping draw attention to the problem at both a state and local community level.
- Connection: We work with partners across Washington state to connect youth with stable housing and employment, education, and health services. By engaging on the local level, we also hope to connect communities with one another to discuss common barriers and solutions for ending youth homelessness.
- Action: We know local communities are resourceful, innovative, and know their backyards better than anybody else. That’s why we’re going deep in regions across Washington state—working with local partners to develop solutions that meet their unique needs and circumstances.
A Way Home Washington is inspired after A Way Home Canada and A Way Home America. Each of these national movements are creating innovative partnerships to prevent and end youth homelessness across North America. Starting this month, A Way Home Washington will embark on a listening and learning tour around the state with First Lady Trudi Inslee and Kim Justice, Executive Director of the Washington State Office of Homeless Youth. At each stop, Trudi and Kim will sit down with youth and community leaders, building on the innovative work already happening to serve youth in Washington state to learn about common barriers and solutions for ending youth homelessness, and to understand what unique challenges exist across the state.
To learn more about these events and how you can get involved, visit www.awayhomewa.org, where you’ll also have the chance to sign the pledge to join us in this work. We encourage you to sign up for the newsletter to make sure you stay up to date with this initiative.
Working together, we can prevent and end youth homelessness. We are well on our way to ending youth homelessness in our communities by the year 2020 – a federal goal that I know we can reach. I hope you’ll join us.