What does it feel like waking up each morning not knowing where you might find your next place to sleep, when you may come across your next meal, or why is it that others look at you with a lack of compassion? No one wakes up one day and thinks, “I want to be homeless.”
Lost In America, a powerful documentary by filmmaker Rotimi Rainwater gives names, faces, and a powerful platform to the 4.2 million young people who experience homelessness every year in this country. This film will be released nationwide on November 15th. We encourage you to get involved and leverage the opportunity this film provides to raise awareness about youth homelessness in your community.
On November 16th, the filmmaker is organizing A Night for Youth as a way to invite others to join the movement of addressing and ending youth homelessness. We encourage you to participate in this night of action by hosting a sleep out to screen the film to raise funds for your organization and raise awareness about youth homelessness. When you sign up for A Night for Youth, you will be provided with a link to the film that you can screen on November 16th.
This film uplifts the various voices and experiences of youth across different communities and while it may not feature your organization or youth from your community, it is a powerful film that you can use to raise awareness about the issue of youth homelessness in your community as well as highlighting how your organization serves young people at-risk of and experiencing homelessness. We urge you to start planning now for A Night for Youth on November 16th. This film highlights the following:
- Homelessness is not a choice young people make, it is often the result of family conflict, rejection, abuse, systems involvement, and substance use and mental health disorders
- Young people experiencing homelessness want a safe place to live, people who care for them, and opportunities to pursue their passions and achieve their fullest potential
- There is a severe lack of federal, state and local investments in the youth-centric services and housing options that young people need to avoid an/or exit homelessness
- No young person should be homeless in America, the richest country in the world
- Young people are very vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking while homeless.
- The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act is a key federal program that needs significantly increased federal appropriations and a full programmatic reauthorization
Young people experiencing homelessness today will be chronically homeless adults in a few short years, unless we act now. When we all work together to address homelessness, we can experience a more robust economy and a stronger democracy inclusive of all of our youth. Only then can our youth aim to reach higher and see more opportunities for themselves, their families and our communities. By learning more about and participating in the dialogue of addressing youth homelessness, youth will no longer be the nameless and faceless but instead can be seen for the potential they hold.