New Shelter Set to Help Ease Youth Homelessness in Greater Boston

A Y2Y rendering of what the bedroom area may look like.
Graphics: http://y2yharvardsquare.org/
banner ad
A Y2Y rendering of what the bedroom area may look like.  Graphics: http://y2yharvardsquare.org/

A Y2Y rendering of what the bedroom area may look like.
Graphics: http://y2yharvardsquare.org/

By: Jessica Castellanos/TRT Reporter—

BOSTON, Mass.—Y2Y Harvard Square will be opening a student-run shelter for at-risk youth, and ensure a safe haven for those who may need guidance and a warm place to sleep at night, according to a Y2Y spokesperson.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) states that there are more than 21,000 homeless people in Massachusetts since 2014. The commonwealth has seen the fourth highest increase in homelessness nationwide. HUD statistics show that LGBTQ youth who experience homelessness are 62 percent more likely to commit suicide than any other group. This group also has a greater risk of being victims of sexual violence. Sarah Rosenkrantz and Sam Greenberg are the co-directors of Y2Y, a program of the Phillips Brooks Housing Association. They explain that there is a need for more shelters like this because of the increased risks that LGBTQ youth may experience. [pullquote]HUD statistics show that LGBTQ youth who experience homelessness are 62 percent more likely to commit suicide than any other group. This group also has a greater risk of being victims of sexual violence.[/pullquote]

“Y2Y will more than double the number of available beds for homeless young adults in Greater Boston and will address key vulnerabilities for youth by offering a safe and affirming environment, fostering pathways out of homelessness, and encouraging guests and volunteers alike to become the next generation’s leading advocates for youth-driven solutions to homelessness,” said Greenberg and Rosenkrantz.

Statistics suggest that LGBTQ homelessness is disproportionate when compared to the overall youth national average.

“Often, young adults are fleeing situations of physical and sexual abuse, strained relationships, or parental neglect. These factors are reflected in the strong correlation between youth homelessness and LGBTQ identity,” said Rosenkrantz and Greenberg. “National data suggest that up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and local data suggests similar numbers [from the True Colors Fund].” “[pullquote]“Y2Y will more than double the number of available beds for homeless young adults in Greater Boston and will address key vulnerabilities for youth by offering a safe and affirming environment, fostering pathways out of homelessness, and encouraging guests and volunteers alike to become the next generation’s leading advocates for youth-driven solutions to homelessness,” said Greenberg and Rosenkrantz.[/pullquote]

Y2Y will have 150 student volunteers and will be situated in the basement of First Parish in Cambridge. The student-run shelter will also have faculty advisors to help run bi-weekly workshops like career readiness, creative expression and discussion groups.

“Students from Harvard Law Schools’ Lambda (an LGBTQ student organization) will utilize funds from the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth to staff an ID clinic, where guests will work on obtaining identification that best represents their gender identity and allows them to access benefits and resources,” said Rosenkrantz and Greenberg. “Additionally, student case managers will work daily with guests to access Y2Y’s extensive partner network for additional resources, including case management, job training, mentoring, mental health care, and permanent housing.”

According to the founders, this center was built especially for LGBTQ youth in mind. Creating an Y2Y_CONCEPT1_FINAL 2400pxinclusive safe space was a priority in the construction of the center. Part of being a place open to everyone, at any time, meant not having people define themselves if they did not want to.

“To guarantee that the unique needs of this population, as well as other prospective guests, are met, the physical space design process has included workshops soliciting the input of young adults at Youth on Fire, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, YARN, and GLASS,” said Rosenkrantz and Greenberg. “Space will be fully gender inclusive, with guests sleeping in alcove beds rather than in gendered, barracks-style sleeping areas. Additionally, bathrooms and showers will be single-stalled. This structure will ensure that guests do not have to choose between ‘male,’ ‘female,’ or ‘other’ upon intake.” [pullquote]“To guarantee that the unique needs of this population, as well as other prospective guests, are met, the physical space design process has included workshops soliciting the input of young adults at Youth on Fire, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, YARN, and GLASS,” said Rosenkrantz and Greenberg.[/pullquote]

Youth on Fire, a program of AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC), has also offered a hand in making the shelter a reality. AAC works with people who have HIV, and those who may be vulnerable to infection. Executive Director Carl Sciortino spoke to how a center like this can make a difference in someone’s life.

“It is oftentimes hard for people to understand that young people struggle to come out, even in Massachusetts. It’s also hard for people to understand that not all parents are welcoming of their LGBTQ children,” said Sciortino.

He also noted that Y2Y is just what Boston needs.

“We know that around 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. A day drop-in space and night shelter that is set up from the start to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth, as Y2Y is, will be an incredible resource for these young people as they work to stabilize their lives,” Sciortino said. [pullquote]“Anyone dealing with homelessness needs to have safe shelter. Y2Y will provide an option for all youth dealing with homelessness in the Boston and Cambridge area, but particularly those who are LGBTQ.” —Suzanne Kenney, executive director of Project Place.[/pullquote]

Project Place was originally founded as a safe haven for runaway youth in Cambridge back in the 1960s. Today, the organization is dedicated to ending homelessness by helping adults who are homeless or vulnerable to becoming homeless learn the skills they need to find good jobs. Suzanne Kenney, executive director of Project Place, said that stable employment is critical to ending homelessness, but people in crisis, especially young people, need to know that help is out there.

“Anyone dealing with homelessness needs to have safe shelter. Y2Y will provide an option for all youth dealing with homelessness in the Boston and Cambridge area, but particularly those who are LGBTQ,” said Kenney. “Any program that provides safety and security and quality resources will help people make the changes they need to stabilize their lives. There is a great need in Greater Boston, for resources for young people and adults dealing with homelessness―this program will help meet this deep need, and its impact is likely to be very significant.”

Y2Y Harvard Square will officially open in November of this year. It will be located at 2 Garden Street in Cambridge, Mass. For more information on this and other community resources, visit www.y2yharvardsquare.org.

Also From The Web

Be the first to comment on "New Shelter Set to Help Ease Youth Homelessness in Greater Boston"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*