Each January, the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness conducts The One Night Count, a community-organized census of King County’s homeless population. This year, the count came to 10,047. Of that total, 824 were homeless or unstably housed youth, ages 12 to 25.
Resources, housing and support are outnumbered by the homeless or unstably housed and can be especially difficult to access. In 1995, the Becca Bill, a Washington truancy law the essentially criminalized youth homelessness and pipelined kids into the criminal justice and prison system, exacerbated the problem of youth access. 20 years ago, Elaine Simons responded to the Becca Bill and other injustices she saw against homeless by founding Peace on the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS).
“It started literally in a little room,” says current PSKS executive director Susan Fox. “We were founded by youth who were advocating against policies that were detrimental to youth who might be homeless.”
Now, PSKS finds itself on the forefront of Seattle’s efforts to address homelessness and inequity as the topic becomes a political cause, new shelters are proposed, and money is finally being put forward to help create real solutions. Continue reading