Three of King County’s leading service providers for homeless youth won’t have to worry about how to fund street outreach efforts for this year.
After the nonprofits struggled to fill a budget gap caused by sharp federal funding cuts last fall, Auburn Youth Resources, Seattle-based YouthCare and Kirkland-based Friends of Youth will receive $450,000 from three Seattle-based philanthropies: the Raikes Foundation, Ballmer Family Giving and the Thomas V. Giddens Jr. Foundation.
The organizations will use the funds in 24 King County cities to reach out to homeless youth, who can often be reluctant to accept help or don’t know where to find it, according to YouthCare spokeswoman Liz Trautman.
The donations come in addition to $100,000 the United Way of King County donated last year for outreach and drop-in services.
YouthCare estimates that each year more than 5,000 youth in King County experience homelessness and, on any given night, more than 700 youth in the area are homeless and sleeping in parks, abandoned buildings and under bridges.
The funds are expected to last about a year, which will give leaders of each nonprofit more time to adjust their budgets and fundraising plans for the long-term.
When YouthCare struggled to keep the doors of its indoor young-adult shelter open last fall, its executive director, Melinda Giovengo, wasn’t optimistic about federal funding returning. YouthCare had received federal funds for outreach for almost two decades when the money was suddenly not awarded again last fall.
“I think we’re stuck in this rut for a while,” said Giovengo. “It’s hard to have a plan when your core services are eroding underneath you.”
King County’s Committee to End Homelessness had hoped a decade ago that by the end of 2014, the problem of homelessness would be eradicated in King County. Instead, it’s beginning to focus on other goals it set last year such as the Comprehensive Plan to Prevent and End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness in King County by 2020. According to YouthCare and the Raikes Foundation, more than $5 million has already been committed to efforts to end King County youth homelessness in the last two years, with $3 million coming from private sources.