Detroit Today: The hidden challenges of youth homelessness in Detroit

The lack of affordable housing is a major underlying cause of homelessness, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

The City of Detroit has launched a Homelessness Strategic Planning Project to identify a five-year strategic plan for reducing homelessness in the city.

The City of Detroit has launched a Homelessness Strategic Planning Project to identify a five-year strategic plan for reducing homelessness in the city.

November is National Homelessness Awareness Month and National Homeless Youth Awareness month — an important topic not only nationally but also right here in Detroit, where the city has launched a new project that aims to serve as a catalyst for improving outcomes for the unhoused in our community, especially for area youth.

Safe, secure and reliable housing is crucial for any person’s ability to survive in our society. To help shine a light on the subject of homelessness and the many people working to support unhoused populations both locally and nationally, Detroit Today‘s Nick Austin was joined by four individuals working hard to tackle the problem.

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Steve Berg is the chief policy officer at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. He says in addition to short term rapid re-housing policies, increasing housing options available is crucial to ending long-term homelessness.

“The longer term, and the real solution, is to make changes in the housing market so people aren’t losing their housing all the time,” said Berg. 

Shontae Hightower is the director of Children’s Services at COTS, the Coalition On Temporary Shelter. She says the key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty is to obtain housing and become self-sufficient as a family. 

“We want [people] to not only get into housing but be self-sufficient once they get there,” said Hightower.

Courtney Smith is the founder and CEO of Detroit Phoenix Center. She says it is important to open up the narrative of unhoused people so more understand the issue. 

“What we need to be doing is listening to folks who have those lived experiences because it will bust some of those myths,” said Smith.

Meagan Dunn is the executive director at Detroit-based Covenant House of Michigan. She says there’s a misconception around unhoused youth ages 18-24.  

“A lot of these young people that we work with are employed,” said Dunn, “but they don’t make the wages for them to obtain affordable housing.”

Listen to Detroit Today with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.