Service groups that support homeless youth need more funding

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Michigan has a large number of school-aged youth struggling with homelessness — more than 22,000, according to the University of Michigan. A large group of service providers are trying to help, but they say they need two things; funding and awareness.

“We are requesting a specific amount of general fund funding for our programs because other than a small increase in 2019, we haven’t had an increase to these programs in over a decade,” said Benjamin Moe, president. of the Michigan Board of Directors. Youth and Family Services Network.

The MNYF is a group of service providers who advocate for and provide resources to runaway and homeless youth in Michigan.

They currently have 19 organizations that are part of the network across Michigan. They each receive training, funding and technical assistance from the MNYF. They are asking the legislature for a $3 million increase in their budget and a $20 million increase in the US state bailout over the next three years.

“And then we also want to expand our programs statewide,” he says.

Moe says if more people understood the need, his organization might be able to get the support they need.

“You know, a lot of the resources that I got help with, I didn’t know about them,” said Cheyenne Howard, a current student and past recipient of support from one of MNYF’s member organizations. “I didn’t know they were available for people like me, people who need help and especially kids coming out of high school like they don’t know any of this stuff.

Howard is one of 3,500 young people who received help from MNYF and now has her own home.

“They helped connect me with all kinds of community resources that I didn’t even know were available to everyone, and that helped me tremendously. I have my own accommodation now. I have my own car insurance. All my bills are in my name,” she says. “I’m able to realize how much money I have and what I need to spend, and she just helped me put it all together and that helped a lot.”

Although the demand far exceeds the programs available, the MNYF reports that 93% of the young people it helps leave their programs with safe and secure housing.

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