Trained, formerly homeless, peer counselors will establish supportive relationships that help youth connect to resources including stable housing, public benefits, education and employment opportunities, health and mental health services, and legal assistance. Through workshops and activities, youth will also have the opportunity to learn independent living skills, their legal rights, and to organize with their peers and advocate for policies that are responsive to their needs.
Youth are encouraged to be themselves at YES. They will be asked their preferred name, gender pronoun, and sexual identity during the intake process. Staff have been routinely attending LGBTQ competency training and are committed to partnering with The Den and Hearts and Ears. Additionally, YES is committed to providing a safe and harm-free space for all youth and does not tolerate hate language from clients.
On any given day at least 640 youth are homeless and on their own in Baltimore City, as documented in 2012 by Center for Adolescent Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in a one-day census. These young people have left their homes because of safety issues, physical and sexual abuse, drug abuse, and over-crowding. Others' homes have dissolved: their parents or guardians have been evicted, have moved in with significant others, or left the area. Many youth have been forced to leave their homes because they are gay, lesbian, or transgendered, or because they are pregnant. Although most youth stay temporarily with friends and/or family, these situations almost always expire. And more often than not, homeless youth are connected to public systems of care, such as foster care or the justice system.
During fiscal year 2013, YES anticipates that it will serve approximately 300 homeless youth and connect at least 50 percent of drop-ins to temporary, transitional, or permanent housing and at least 50 percent to education, employment, and workforce development opportunities.
The People Behind YES
YES grew out of the work of the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative, (BHYI) a coalition of community and government agencies and committed individuals that seek to fill critical gaps in care for unaccompanied homeless youth (i.e., young people who are homeless and on their own, rather than with their family).
YES Director Lara Law has been involved with the BHYI since 2009. After BHYI Youth Leaders identified Baltimore's need for a homeless youth drop-in center, she received an OSI Community Fellowship to open and operate the center. Shawn Toyer, Nadja Bentley-Hammond, and Nicholas Jones have been working to develop YES over the past year and will all serve as the peer counselors. YES is currently interviewing candidates for a program coordinator.
People of all ages are encouraged to volunteer. Currently, YES needs:
- IT Professionals to help set up office network & computers
- Licensed Plumber/Builder to supervise the shower renovation
- Drivers to pick up large donations
- Painting Party Volunteers
- Tutors to teach classes/workshops, and provide office & drop-in support
- Volunteers to collect supplies
Sat., August 4 • 10am-4pm
2315 N. Charles St. • 1st Floor
Call 443.631.3017 for opening date and hours
A project of Fusion Partnerships, Inc.