Support for Marginalized Young People
Youth who experience homelessness are 87% more likely than housed teens to quit school. Teens who don’t finish high school are six times more likely to end up in prison and have three times the unemployment rate of those who graduate. Many end up on the streets where they are vulnerable to violence, drugs, sexual abuse, and human-trafficking. Southtowne’s Homeless Youth Support projects are aimed primarily at this population.
While services are available to younger homeless and unaccompanied youth, none exist to adequately support older teens who face similar circumstances of unstable housing or unsafe home environments that push them to leave. This is where the Youth House is able to drastically change the lives of 13 young women at a time with stable housing, wraparound case management, and resources to prepare them for a life without homelessness.
The facility provides:
- Up to two years of transitional housing in 13 individual studio apartments.
- Housing, food, clothing, and healthcare to ensure their most basic physical requirements to survive and thrive are met.
- Wrap-around casework is available to support residents with long-term planning and prepare them for independent living.
- Personalized support through mentorships, community volunteerism, and employment opportunities.
Southtowne has a team of 11 members who provide dinner for the house residents once/week. Pre-Covid, this involved a pair of members shopping, preparing, and serving the meal. During Covid, to reduce potential infection, we are working singly to shop for and deliver ready-to-eat food, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Hosea Drop-in Center
Hosea Youth Services provides a drop-in center near downtown Eugene for homeless youth aged 16-24. The center, which is open 4 afternoons per week, provides hospitality and first response to young people who are being impacted by the streets. The young people who walk through the doors have access to: a welcoming environment; relationships with caring adults; lunches and family-style dinners; laundry facilities; a computer lab; showers; a phone; recreation; clothing and hygiene supplies; living room with games and TV.
Southtowne’s involvement at the center is similar to that of the Youth House: once/month, we provide dinner for approximately 40 youth. Pre-Covid, this meant that a pair of members would shop, prepare and serve the meal. During Covid, to reduce potential infection, we provide easy-to-prepare or ready-to-eat food that we delivered to the house. We are now partnering with the Mission for the Hosea service where the Mission provides the dinner entrée and Southtowne provides whatever additional food is needed to complete the dinner. We also periodically provide needed items, e.g. backpacks, camping equipment, and hygiene supplies.
ECCO High School
ECCO High School is an alternative high school offered by Eugene 4J School District. Approximately 33% of ECCO’s 250-member student population is homeless. Many of these students have no form of identification. Southtowne provides support to these students by first meeting with them to identify which documents they need (birth certificates, social security cards, Oregon ID’s), helping them fill out necessary forms and make sure that they have other documentation that is needed, and then accompanying them to the DMV to pay for their ID’s.
Each year, under the leadership of Ben Mondragon, Southtowne collects thousands of new socks and underwear, which are distributed to the very poor and homeless. In 2012, Ben Mondragon accepted the Boxer award from Terry McDonald, the very successful Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County. Many of us have been very inspired by Terry’s description of his many innovative programs, which he has described during several Southtowne presentations. The Boxer award isn’t (just) a pun on shorts. It alludes to a holiday in Great Britain called Boxing Day, which celebrates the gifting to others less fortunate. Terry said that Southtowne has collected a mountain of socks and underwear and displayed a socks and underwear representation mirroring the Coburg Hills as seen from his office. “For many people living on the streets or in poverty, clean underwear and dry socks are a luxury. Distributing these items to people in need is a small way to give them some dignity back.”
To help us with this project, donate here.
“The 15th Night is a youth-informed community movement to end youth homelessness by connecting existing resources and finding innovative ways to keep kids in school and off the streets.”
15th Night has set up a network (RAN) to provide needed items to homeless students. Southtowne as a club, as well as individual members, have been part of the RAN. In past years, this has often meant buying Subway or Safeway gift cards so that students could eat on weekends. With the onset of Covid, the need for tents, tarps, and sleeping bags became critical as other shelter arrangements came to an end. We have also provided weekend snack bags, backpacks, underwear, hygiene supplies, etc.