YSI addresses young adult homelessness

YSI is one of the agencies that joined together establishing the Housing for Youth Collaborative to respond to the city’s desire to impact the crisis of older youth facing unstable housing. The Collaborative, in its second year, provides programming and resources to address the youth homelessness crisis in Philadelphia. Initiated and led by City Council and the Office of Homeless Services, the Collaborative focuses on youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who are housing insecure. Hundreds of young adults in Philadelphia have been verified homeless, but the real number is likely to be much higher. Thousands of young adults age 18-24 are estimated to have “unstable housing” in Philadelphia.

The Office of Homeless Services selected a coalition of five youth-serving organizations to address the crisis of older youth facing unstable housing. In addition to YSI, the coalition includes The Attic, Pathways PA, Covenant House, and Valley Youth House.

In this new service provided by YSI, staff member and social worker Joseph Hill-Coles serves as a community navigator to work through YSI’s existing programs to connect homeless youth with shelters, more permanent housing, job training, school, and other services; provide counseling, and more.

“I’m a shoulder to lean on,” Joseph said. “These are capable individuals stuck in rut situations. Many of them have aged out of the foster care system and are no longer eligible for services provided by the child welfare system or did not develop independent living skills. They’ve gone without helping hands and appreciate the guidance.”

Joseph is currently working with 25 young adults. More than half are in interim housing, over half are women, and six have children.

Joseph was recently invited by David Holloman, director of external affairs for OHS, to speak at a community meeting of the South Street Headhouse District. The focus of the meeting was to create dialogue about homelessness, vagrancy and panhandling in the South Street area. “It was a great opportunity. The meeting was open to the public to discuss concerns, address strategies and bring awareness to these issues,” said Joseph, who shared his experience as a former homeless youth.