On any day in Baltimore, more than 600 young people are homeless, without a stable place to live. These young people have left their homes for many reasons: Some fled unsafe living conditions. Others’ homes dissolved because their caretakers have been evicted or incarcerated, or they simply left them behind. And still others have been pushed from their homes because they are gay or transgender, pregnant or have children of their own.
Where do these teens and young adults go when they have no place else?
Wanting to answer that question, 2011 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow Lara Law supported a group of youth leaders in the city to establish a comprehensive drop-in resource center for homeless youth.
The YES Drop-In Center, in lower Charles Village, is a “safe place” for youth, where they can regroup and get on a path to independence. The staff—many of whom have also been homeless—works with the youth to help them obtain identification, apply for government benefits and connect with schools, employment opportunities or housing.
“We first help them meet their basic needs,” Law says. “And one of those needs is friendship.”