Homelessness Affects 270 Students at San Juan Hills High School

In+recent+years%2C+youth+homelessness+has+been+on+the+rise%2C+especially+in+light+of+the+COVID+Pandemic.+Through+National+Youth+Homelessness+Awareness+Month%2C+the+hope+is+to+lend+support+to+those+in+need%2C+especially+during+the+holiday%2C+as+well+as+educate+all+on+the+importance+of+awareness.

Graphic by Alyssa Morrone

In recent years, youth homelessness has been on the rise, especially in light of the COVID Pandemic. Through National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month, the hope is to lend support to those in need, especially during the holiday, as well as educate all on the importance of awareness.

Alyssa Morrone, Entertainment Editor

Across the nation, there is an issue that is often neglected but has only grown more pressing: youth homelessness. Frequently discussed as distant unpleasantry, it is an issue that may be closer to many than realized. There may be a family member, friend, or classmate of your own who faces homelessness.

It is for these reasons that November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. First nationally recognized in 2007, the month was dedicated to educating the general public on the issue of youth homelessness. The goal is to offer a chance for communities to donate and help their local shelters.

The district declares a student eligible for resources following The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, instated in 1987 with the purpose of funding and providing protection of those whom it affects through homeless shelter programs. 

A student is deemed eligible for benefits under the act if they share a home or apartment with others due to economic hardship; live in a hotel or motel; live in an emergency, transitional, or domestic violence shelter; live in a mobile vehicle or campground; or are unaccompanied by a legal guardian or caretaker.

At San Juan Hills High School, there are over 270 students who are recognized under the act, a statistic that may be shocking to many. The school currently offers tutoring services, as well as other necessities for eligible students. These resources are provided by the district who collaborate with local organizations.

Fernando Sotelo, an academic advisor, and Carmen Stout, the Bilingual Community liaison at SJHHS, are currently acting together as the school’s Homelessness Liaisons, and hope to provide help to any students who face homelessness or are at risk. They also aim to educate the student body on the causes of homelessness as well as ways in which they can help those who need it.

Many factors surround the issue of homelessness, but according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the leading causes in teenagers and young adults are family conflict and family dynamics, sexual orientation or sexual activity, school problems, pregnancy, and substance use. 

Of the youth who are homeless, 69% report having dealt with mental health problems and almost all have stated being physically harmed while experiencing homelessness, the majority of those being a youth who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.”

Of the youth who are homeless, 69% report having dealt with mental health problems and almost all have stated being physically harmed while experiencing homelessness, the majority of those being a youth who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

Children in the foster care system are at extremely high risk as well, with over 600 children in 2019 reportedly running away from their foster homes according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.

Although this issue is vastly complicated and will not be resolved overnight, there are ways in which you can offer help and support to those in your community who are dealing with these hardships.

Throughout the month of November, an encouraged act to show support of those dealing with housing hardships is wearing some form of green on Fridays, as green is the official color for Youth Homelessness Awareness.

Additionally, with the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, there will be plenty of opportunities to help serve Thanksgiving dinners at local shelters and kitchens, donate food items, and help sort any donated items received. Some local locations are Serra’s Food Pantry at Mission Basilica and Family Assistance Ministry in San Clemente.

Instated to bring awareness and support to a growingly critical issue, this month inspires hope to see a change in how homeless youth are perceived and assisted.