15th Night is a youth-informed community movement to address youth homelessness in Lane County. 15th Night is powered by a Youth Action Council, a 40+ agency network, schools, and hundreds of community members. The term 15th Night means that youth are more apt to become chronically homeless once they reach 15 nights unhoused.

15th Night convened a 35 member task force working to overcome youth homelessness by developing a comprehensive shelter-housing plan for unhoused youth ages 11-17. The result is a plan designed to help guide the community on a new path towards building sustainable resources to ensure runaway and homeless youth have timely access to shelter-housing programs and support services for themselves and their parents/guardians.

The various pathways to youth experiencing homelessness include family discord, chronic family homelessness, financial instability, exit from foster care, poverty, values/beliefs not aligned, mental health issues, abuses/neglect and safety issues, substance abuse, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Barriers for parents include not knowing where to get help, shame, fear, isolation, and lack of service (or bad experience) when they have reached out.

Barriers for youth are similar. Also, not all services are youth-centered, and youth believe that the resources are not for them, that their situation isn’t bad enough.

15th Night mapped out existing community resources to identify gaps. The only shelter, for instance, for 11-17-year-olds that currently exists is Looking Glass, and before COVID they only have 12 beds. There are around 791 (trackable) youth that are currently homeless in our area (over 500 are unaccompanied).

Something important that emerged was “How do we support a youth in crisis that is still housed? How do we help those families and students and eliminate as many barriers as possible to get help to remain housed?” For more information on the services provided, click here to view the youth resource guide.

An emergency shelter/hostel is being developed at 44 West 7th in Eugene (early phases). A Host Home Program has also been recommended to help youth in crisis. This program is identified as one of the top recommendations. It’s inexpensive, flexible, and can meet specific needs like LBGTQ Specific, pregnant/parenting, Latin, etc.

The St. Vincent De Paul Boy’s and Girl’s Youth House that Southtowne Rotary has supported are part of the transitional housing solutions.

If you missed our Thursday meeting, you can watch below. Megan Schultz talks about the who, what, where, when and why of our area’s homeless youth population. And of course, how we can help.