Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets Programs
According to national research most youth, through no fault of their own, end up homeless due to abuse and neglect from caregivers and have no place to turn for support. Many of our participants have been kicked out, or aged out, of other programs or are extremely system resistant. Quite a few have been excluded from, or avoided, transitional living situations and continue couch surfing or live under bridges, cars or tents until they can secure their own home.
We do not have a “one size fits all” approach, but empower participants to define needs and goals that fit with their unique situation. The presence of Staff and Core Members who have risen up from life on the streets creates a home at PSKS where they can access services in a safe and non-judgmental community. Serving as allies, our staff and Core members develop collaborative relationships which support an individual to achieve immediate goals and instill the skills and confidence for long-term success.
Programs we offer to support young people on their journey to self-sufficiency include:
- RISK provides a means to earn a GED and move on to vocational and post-secondary education. A new partnership with Seattle Education Access will exponentially increase the number of GED students we serve this year from 15 to more than 80 by expanding off-site tutoring.
- LEAP provides paid internships and skill development to aid with employment readiness and income security. A recent grant from Pride Foundation doubles the number of LEAP interns this year and expands our ability to engage LGBTQ youth.
- Step Beyond is a peer support group for those who have exited the streets with a focus on maintaining housing security. PSKS just received new funding to support this project from the City of Seattle Human Services Department.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
A young person who has been homeless for an extended period of time can face a difficult road to get their first identification. This difficulty is compounded for those who never completed high school, never obtained identification, lack access to birth and social security records, and have mental health issues or arrest records. Our case manager worked tirelessly over the past six months to assist a young man in this situation to navigate complex local and out of state government agencies in pursuit of this goal. After many false starts, dead ends, interim accomplishments, and too frequent disappointments this young man finally received his first government issued identification last month.
Proper identification and documentation is a critical step for a young person seeking housing. With ID in hand, this young man is now able to pursue employment, access government benefits and take other steps to move into a stable living situation. A year ago, these goals were an unimaginable dream for him. This level of commitment, individualized support and attention to detail is often not available in larger mainstream homeless youth organizations.
As the economy remains stagnant for young people, PSKS continues to draw growing numbers of youth to our drop in center for a hot meal, respite from the rain and help to move beyond their current struggles. Our drop-in staff, volunteers and resources are stretched beyond capacity. Meal deliveries are consumed as quickly as they are brought in. Hygiene and other basic supplies are running low. Contributions of time and money are needed to expand our capacity to connect with each new arrival, provide them with the support they need, and connect them with resources to help them achieve housing stability and independence.