Working Together To Protect Our Youth!
Here in Eugene/Springfield, homelessness is a wide-spread issue that many organizations have been grappling with for years. Many people turn to the Eugene Mission, or other shelters in our community, to seek temporary housing, especially during the cold winter months. However, if you are an unaccompanied youth and you are experiencing homelessness, you do not have access to adult shelters. This leaves youth with 12 (7 during COVID restrictions) beds at the one shelter we have for under 18 and 13 beds at another for youth indentifyling as female. Youth under the age of 18 are also unable to access many food distribution resources and resource centers due to their status as a minor.
AFFEC's Host Home Program is licensed through the state of Oregon. As one of the few licensed Host Home programs in the state, we are able to assist youth ages 0-15 years old. Youth 16+ and home providers are not required to go through the licensed program. We take pride in successfully completing the licensing process and are also very committed to assisting other blooming Host Home programs throughout the state.
The RAN technology was updated over the summer based on feedback from our community advocates and network of 30+ service providers. RAN 2.0 was successfully launched in late September and enables school specific RANs to be connected to the larger Community RAN.
The 15th Night expanded into Springfield this fall. Springfield Public Schools and the Springfield Police Department can now access the 15th Night RAN on behalf of students experiencing homelessness. Catholic Community Services, First Place Family Shelter, Whitebird Dental, and the Eugene Mission have all joined the 30+ network of providers who responded in real time to alerts.
Sometimes the 15th Night Network is unable to meet a specific need of a student. This is where our Community Responder volunteers step into action. Over 50 people have volunteered to receive alerts from the 15th Night when there is a need that is hard to fill like special clothing, shoes, or gift cards for food.
Even students are stepping up for each other. The Economic Justice League (EJL) for homeless and economically-challenged youth was created at South Eugene High School. Along with 15th Night, we are working to execute the vision of keeping kids in school and supporting those struggling with housing. One of South Eugene’s projects is opening a drop-in center for students to get help, support, and access to resources. This includes food throughout the school day as well as free dinners-to-go, access to computers and technology, washer and dryer, free counseling, and much more. The goal is to have this room open before school, during lunch, and after school for any student that needs support. We hope to bring in therapists, artists, performers, hair stylists, barbers, and mentors of all kinds. We plan to have Fancy Dinner nights, Hair/Makeup/Makeover nights, Open Mic/Performance nights, arts and crafts, movie and game nights, and more.