Here’s what we did for the homeless

March 31, 2019

In his recent My View, Dan Frazier asked, “Is this the best we can do for the homeless?” (March 23). This is what was done by Youth Shelters and Family Services with the support of the city of Santa Fe and some federal dollars: From the beginning of December to the end of February, youth were picked up at various locations around town and transported to a warm apartment, furnished with bunk beds and bedding, and stocked with food, hygiene products and donated clothing. Trained staff were on hand to maintain safety and engage in conversation. In the morning, youth were transported wherever they needed to go.

The numbers speak for themselves. Twenty youth (ages 18-21) and one infant spent at least one night at the shelter, instead of sleeping outside or in a vehicle or in an unsafe environment. In program reporting parlance, 280 “bed-nights” were provided. And of the 20 youth who stayed at the Cold Weather Shelter, seven are now in permanent housing, or are in the process of becoming housed, through The Life Link, Youth Works and Youth Shelters and Family Services Rapid Rehousing and Transitional Living Programs.

Some youth moved in with family or friends, and some are back sleeping on the street. The important thing is that connections were made and new futures took shape. Did the Cold Weather Shelter meet all the need? No way. But it made a difference for the 20 young people who were provided shelter and services and access to housing opportunities.

We will be doing even more to prevent and end youth homelessness starting this summer as part of a Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program in 14 counties in Northern New Mexico. There are many innovative and compassionate efforts underway in our city right now that address homelessness. We look forward to working with concerned involved citizens on ways we can do our best for the homeless.

Priscilla Roberts is the clinical director for Youth Shelters and Family Services in Santa Fe.