Youth Action Board launches campaign to bring awareness to youth homelessness
November 12, 2022
Each year in the U.S., an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness, of which 700,000 are unaccompanied minors, meaning they are not part of a family unit or accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Moreover, on any given night, approximately 41,000 unaccompanied youth ages 13-25 experience homelessness across the nation. Those counts do not include the large numbers of homeless youth who were not counted that night because they were hiding, couch surfing with friends, sleeping in cars, in abandoned buildings or other places not easily identifiable.
Jayme Stuart, a coordinator at the Kern County Network for Children, says there are at least 300 homeless youth throughout Kern County. But those are only youth who have been identified and have been connected to resources.
"There are so many more homeless youth out there," Stuart said. "Sadly, 300 is just the tip of the iceberg."
While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to complex trauma and countless dangers, with an increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and a vulnerability to becoming a victim of sexual or human trafficking.
To help increase awareness locally, the Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative's Youth Action Board (YAB) (whose membership is composed of youth ages 18 to 24 who are currently or were formerly homeless) created a compelling photo essay titled, "Through Our Eyes." The project illustrates what it's like to be a homeless youth.
"There is no doubt that people who view the photos, even for just a few minutes, will become more aware, more sensitive and more committed to helping connect homeless youth to resources and ending youth homelessness," said Gennessa Fisher, a former homeless youth and co-chair of YAB.
A link to a video presentation of the photo essay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jf4Cch9ojQ.
Community members are invited to be part of the solution
• If a person encounters a homeless youth, they are encouraged to have the youth call 211 to be connected to services - or help the youth call 211 if they don't have a phone. Youth can also visit the KCNC Dream Center at 1801 19th St.
• Donations of sleeping bags, non-perishable emergency food, hygiene items and gently used clothing/shoes can also be dropped off at the KCNC Dream Center at 1801 19th St.
About the Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative
The Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative (BKRHC) is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to address homelessness in Kern County through collaborative action and planning. BKRHC seeks to do this through serving as the regional Continuum of Care, developing a regional strategy to address homelessness and improving the coordination of homelessness services across Kern County.