York City spotlights homeless youth for awareness week
York City Mayor Kim Bracey and advocates for homeless citizens are urging residents to stop and take notice of young people around them who don’t have a roof over their heads or a place to call home.
In declaring the week of Nov. 13-17 “Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week,” Bracey encouraged schools, service organizations and residents to help young people who are sleeping on floors or in backseats of cars and “couch surfing” to make it through each night.
While many people have a stereotypical idea of homelessness, most don’t realize that image is quite far from reality, said Sonia Pitzi, regional coordinator for Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.
Nationally, the average age of a homeless person is between 9 and 12, Pitzi said, leading to advocates’ focus on youth homelessness this week and throughout the year.
“When we talk about homelessness, we’re really talking about students and children,” Pitzi said.
There are more than 1.6 million children living in the U.S. without a stable home, and nearly 28,000 of those children live in Pennsylvania, Pitzi said, citing statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Those statistics show 802 children in York County, including 153 in the York City School District, were provided with services by ECYEH organizations from July 2015 through June 2016.
Pitzi noted ECYEH organizations have seen an increase in the number of people under the age of 18 seeking services in York County and York City.
By designating a week for awareness about youth homelessness, advocates hope to show students that their schools are safe places to seek help without any fear or stigma, Pitzi said.
“We’re not looking to get anyone in trouble. We want to make sure that there’s resources being provided for these students,” Pitzi said.
Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week will culminate on Friday, Nov. 17, with Red Shirt Day. Pitzi and Bracey are asking York City residents to wear red as a way of showing their support for children struggling with unstable housing.
“Let’s paint social media red and have people wearing red shirts to show these students that I work with that people do care,” Pitzi said.
LifePath Christian Ministries and Rabbit Transit are teaming up this weekend for a "Stuff the Bus" fall food drive at the Giant Food Store at 1255 Carlisle Road in West Manchester Township.
A Rabbit Transit bus will be parked in the lot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, for people to fill with non-perishable food items, according to a news release.
LifePath Christian Ministries hopes to collect 100,000 pounds of donated food to support its ministries in 2018.