How we’re tackling youth homelessness

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We often hear people talk about "the homeless.”

And while this is something that needs to be addressed, what we don’t often talk about is the many young people, youth and young adults who stay in unsafe environments because they have nowhere else to go.

A number of our young people in Project Legacy have stayed with abusive partners or family member for this reason. Some couch hop at friends houses and relapse because they don’t have a stable or safe home they can count on.

And for those who are old enough, taking a step to find their own place isn’t that easy either.

Many of our young people often don’t have a credit-worthy parent or family member willing to cosign on an apartment for them. Some have poor credit because their identity has been stolen by a parent. Others have no credit built up at all.

This creates major barriers for our young people, many still children themselves.

Last week, Mayor Kim Norton held a community meeting to discuss homelessness in Olmsted County. We were glad to see this issue being brought up in our community, but know it’s going to take more than a meeting or simple action plan to make a difference.

Homelessness, especially for our young people, is systemic, and is often a result of unaddressed trauma, unmet needs, lack of support and lack of a healthy family dynamic.

At Project Legacy, we’ve addressed this in a variety of ways, including providing rental subsidies so that our youth could afford an apartment until they were on their feet. We provided complete care, similar to foster care, but without government assistance, providing food and shelter while teaching independent living skills. We’ve even put homeless youth and families up in hotels on an emergency basis.

But none of these things are enough to address the needs of all of our youth.

Because of the extent of the need and the gravity of the situation, our board has formed a housing committee to explore the creation of a Project Legacy Housing Program. We will be gathering in a few weeks to discuss the kickoff of this initiative and how we can make the most impact for the greatest number of our community’s young people.

This initiative will take community support, committed volunteers, and passionate donors. If this is going to work, we need a village.

We need you.

Interested in getting involved as we build a network of support, stability and safety for our young people? Contact Karen Edmonds at

We look forward to finding a way to make this dream a reality!

Karen Edmonds