GSA hosts Avenues, raises awareness for youth homelessness

Craig+Freeman+from+Avenues+for+Homeless+Youth+presented+to+SPA+students+on+October+17

Isabel Gisser

Craig Freeman from Avenues for Homeless Youth presented to SPA students on October 17

As part of an ongoing calendar of activities this month, the Gender and Sexuality Acceptance club hosted Craig Freeman on Oct. 17 to inform students about the ever-growing issue of youth homelessness, particularly in LGBTQ+ communities and communities of color.  

According to Freeman, 87% of the 6,000 homeless youth in Minnesota are without a stable place to stay. However, groups like Avenues for Homeless Youth are working to increase the 13% that have been able to secure a place to live. 76% of homeless youth that pass through Avenues are able to move on to stable living arrangements, whether with a family or independently. The organization currently runs out of two locations; one in Minneapolis and another in Brooklyn Park, where boarding, counseling, and connections to host families are freely available to youth in need. By helping young people ages 16-24 to “move beyond crisis, begin to heal and trust, build a sense of self-worth and orientation to the future, and start pursuing personal goals,” Avenues allows youths to transition “from surviving in the streets to thriving young adults.”

“The biggest thing is awareness,” Freeman said.

The more opportunities you folks have to talk about how big the problem is, to share it with people, to tell people. Whether it’s about us or one of our partners, or just the problem, the more people who know the better. ”

— Craig Freeman, Community Engagement Manager at Avenues for Homeless Youth

“I talked about how big the problem is, and folks just don’t know about it. The more opportunities you folks have to talk about how big the problem is, to share it with people, to tell people. Whether it’s about us or one of our partners, or just the problem, the more people who know the better,” Freeman said. “Because that age group, 16 to 24, is the most likely to be homeless in Minnesota, but nobody’s doing anything about it. If people knew that fact, they would do something about it and we’d be able to get that number down.”

Although volunteers under 21 are not permitted to work directly in Avenues’ facilities, the SPA community can join in the cause of reducing youth homelessness by participating in events hosted by the organization. Avenues will be hosting a 6k run/walk (6,000 meters to represent the number of homeless youth in Minnesota) in honor of National Youth Homelessness month on Nov. 4, and a charity holiday wrapping party will be held on Dec. 8.