Jenny Gaard, Homeless Liason for the Osseo School System, reported to the packed Think Again Brooklyns audience at Brooklyn Park City Hall March 18 that the Osseo System had over 500 homeless youth in 2012. Karrie Schaaf, her counterpart in the Anoka-Hennepin School System, reported over 700 homeless students.
As many students do not report that they are homeless, these are likely to be underestimates. Rev. Rachel Morey, Pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, emphasized that these are good kids in a difficult situation and that it is important that we reach them quickly because the average homeless young person is approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours of being on the streets.
Mayor Jeff Lunde announced that Brooklyn Park had committed to
building or remodeling an existing building as a shelter for 10 to 12 homeless youth. It would serve about 35 homeless youth, 16 to 21 years old, a year as most youth are able to transition to another setting such as a host family or a shared apartment. Mayor Lunde said that the city would rent the building to Avenues for Homeless Youth for $1.00 a year, and the nonprofit organization would manage it. Terry Velasquez, Development Director for Avenues for Homeless Youth, estimated that the operating cost of the shelter would be about $600,000 a year, and about half of the money had been raised so far from individuals and foundations. The shelter is expected to open in the summer of 2015.
Christiaan Tarbox, Community Editor of the Brooklyn Center Sun Post wrote an excellent report on the forum, "Homeless Youth in the NW Suburbs." It includes details related by Rev. Morey on the daily struggles of homeless youth and services provided by churches, nonprofits, schools, and the city. You can read the report in your city's March 27 SunPost paper or online at: