According to the National Runaway Safeline and National Center on Family Homelessness, 1.6 to 2.8 million youth run away and an estimated 1.6 million experience homelessness a year in the United States. National Runaway Prevention and Homeless Youth Awareness Month brings attention to this often silent, unseen crisis in November. You may not recognize kids and adolescents on the street as homeless or even see them at all, but if you were to take a second look, you may be surprised to realize how many youth are homeless. Hawaii is not exempt from the problem and Waikiki, a world-class tourist destination known as paradise, has the highest population of homeless youth in the state.
For Hale Kipa, these alarming facts are of no surprise as we work with homeless youth and youth at risk of becoming homeless on a daily basis.
Our organization provides a wide-range of important services to at-risk youth, including homeless youth, from counseling to shelter. Recognizing homelessness is not an isolated circumstance, we try to intervene and connect with young people at the earliest signs of trouble. Homelessness is a repercussion of a variety of issues, such as lack of education, poverty, family dynamics, physical or emotional challenges, domestic violence and more. That’s why our prevention, intervention, educational and vocational programs are critical to preventing youth homelessness.
Keeping youth off the streets in a safe, secure family environment and away from the countless dangers that come with living on the streets, plays a vital part in our mission to help at-risk youth reach their full potential as adults. When that’s not possible or unsafe, however, Hale Kipa becomes their safe haven and support system. We connect homeless youth with our various services, shelters and foster care.
In Waikiki, Hale Kipa in partnership with Waikiki Health offers medical and social services to homeless youth 14 to 21 years old. Youth in desperate need of the basics like a hot meal, a shower, and preventive medical care can walk into the Waikiki Health clinic during drop-in hours and seek assistance. Many do not know about the services available to them, so our street outreach team also guides them to our programs that can meet their needs. For homeless youth and runaways, YO! is a blessing.
In addition to physically sheltering homeless youth, Hale Kipa’s emergency shelters and foster care programs provide a secure, stable and caring environment for youth to live. We match each youth to the program that fits best with his or her individual needs and situation.
Shelter, however, is only a temporary solution to homelessness. We must continue to tackle the complex root causes of this unfortunate situation in order for youth to build their lives and support themselves as adults.
More resources and statistics on youth homelessness and runaways can be found at the National Center on Family Homelessness, the National Runaway Safeline and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
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