According to After8toEducate Project Coordinator Lydia Dubose,
With only three days’ notice, Han needed to find another place to live when COVID-19 closures affected her university. In a recent panel discussion on COVID-19 and youth homelessness, a group of formerly homeless students reflected on their experiences and the unique difficulties that young people face during this unprecedented moment.
Before COVID-19, over 4,000 students in Dallas ISD were experiencing homelessness. With the Coronavirus’ economic and physical impact, we anticipate that even more young people will find themselves homeless, doubled-up with other families, or in unstable housing conditions. Young people need a safe place to sleep, and they also need social and emotional resources to support their wellbeing. While everyone has experiences that can impact their mental health, the challenges faced by homeless youth further compound the impacts on their mental wellbeing.
The trauma of even short term homelessness can have a significant effect on a youth’s future development. In addition to academic difficulties, youth who experience homelessness have much higher emotional, behavioral, and immediate and long-term health problems. They often struggle with self-esteem, putting them at risk for substance abuse, suicide, violence, and other adverse outcomes. The impacts of COVID-19 have further exacerbated this problem. Young people have had to distance themselves from the community that they depend upon to practice social distancing, which has taken a toll on their mental health and introduced additional barriers to gaining self-sufficiency. Without the stability that school offers students experiencing homelessness, young people may be at higher risk of adverse mental health experiences.
Support beyond just housing is necessary to ensure a sustainable exit from homelessness and a path toward a successful future. At After8toEducate, we focus our efforts to provide academic, emotional, and social support services that help unsheltered youth overcome homelessness and ultimately live healthy, productive lives. We recognize that each young person needs physical and emotional safety and mental health support to thrive.
In collaboration with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and local organizations, we offer a three-pillar program at the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center to support the immediate needs of homeless high school students in DISD. Your gift on North Texas Giving Day will bring us closer to opening the doors to our residential services center this fall, providing students like Han a safe place to sleep and access to counseling and creative programming to support her emotional wellbeing. No matter the size, your donation will make a difference for students experiencing homelessness in Dallas ISD!
* Graphic and photo provided by After8toEducate
In 11 years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $290 million into the North Texas community. In 2019, more than $50 million was raised through more than 169,000 gifts benefiting over 2,988 area nonprofits.