Partner Spotlight: How SARAH is Fighting Homelessness in Bexar County
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Have we mentioned how much we love SARAH? SARAH stands for the South Alamo Regional Alliance For The Homeless, an organization doing tremendous work to help prevent homelessness in Bexar County, Texas, on both the individual and systemic levels.
Young People In Need
Fact: Each year, an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults in the United States experience homelessness. That’s 4.2 million Americans ages 13-25 who should be surrounded by family and friends, focusing on learning and growth, and building their educational and professional futures. But instead, they live on the streets without a safe place to sleep or access to basic amenities.
Imagine a teenager showing up to their 1st-period class after having “showered” in a public restroom, or a recent graduate trying to keep their wits about them during a job interview when they haven’t had a proper meal or night’s sleep in months. Imagine a young adult pitching themself a cheap tent in a park, wrapped in whatever discarded clothing they could find tangled in the leaves and trash of the gutter. The truth is, homelessness can happen to anyone.
What’s more, approximately 41,000 homeless youth are unaccompanied minors, which means they face nights in shelters, under bridges, in public parks, or in their cars. Alone.
These young people are incredibly vulnerable to such threats as mental health disorders, sexual exploitation, physical harm, and suicide.
Furthermore, the long-term impacts can catch young people in a paralyzing cycle of homelessness. In addition to mental health issues such as PTSD, young people who experience homelessness are highly likely to experience severe setbacks in their personal and professional development. The teen and young adult years are pivotal for a person’s development, and the challenges and trauma of homelessness can be crippling for one’s growth and transition into independent adulthood. When a young person lacks a safe and permanent home with caring adults, it can stifle the development of their decision-making, planning, and reasoning, leading to high-risk behavior and unsafe situations.
Allies Against Homelessness
Fortunately, there are incredible humans in our neck of the woods who are doing everything they can to provide safe, stable, and supportive homes for people in need. In Bexar County, Texas, SARAH is leading community-wide planning efforts to end homelessness in the San Antonio area not just among youth, but for all of our neighbors experiencing homelessness. SARAH’s vision is built on funding, education, empowerment, and accountability. So it’s not just about finding one person a home. It’s about building systems that prevent homelessness from ever being a possibility in the first place.
SARAH collects copious amounts of data on housing and homelessness in the Bexar County community by getting out into the community and listening to those facing and experiencing homelessness. As the Continuum of Care (CoC) Lead Agency for San Antonio and Bexar County, SARAH uses that data to oversee funding designated by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development for housing with services to prevent and end homelessness in the community. Essentially, the Board of Directors awards grants to nonprofits and community organizations providing housing and preventing homelessness. They also create committees for the annual Point-In-Time Count, the local Homeless Management Information System, Bexar County’s Coordinated Entry System, and the Youth Action Board. They do the boots-on-the-ground research, and then they turn around and fund boots-on-the-ground programs helping Texans find safe and stable housing.
Programs like Endeavors.
Partners In Preventing Homelessness
From receiving a Supportive Housing Grant to assist single mothers and their children experiencing chronic homelessness to our recent collaboration with their #WeSay #HouseAllYouthMovement to house youth and young adults in Bexar County, Endeavors has been able to help hundreds of people thanks to the generosity and organizing efforts of SARAH.
Our individualized, comprehensive approach to homelessness prevention aligns perfectly with SARAH’s values of listening to people with lived homelessness experience, prioritizing people without homes, and emphasizing the importance of education in effecting long-term change.
In short, their vision, networking, and dedication drives so much of the homelessness prevention work happening in our community, and it helps Endeavors further our own mission of helping vulnerable people in crisis…from Veterans to single mothers with disabilities to young adults.
Truly, the work SARAH is doing — the number of lives they are changing — blows us away. And we are honored to call them a partner in serving others. With their help, we recently launched our Youth Resilient Project, a re-housing program designed explicitly for Bexar County youth ages 18-24 of all self-identified genders. And we’re especially proud that our own Annie Erickson, Senior Director of Veteran and Community Services at Endeavors, serves on SARAH’s Board of Directors, too!
Of the program and the partnership, SARAH’s executive director Katie Vela said, “We are very excited about the work the YHDP partners are doing, and Endeavors is a spectacular part of that team to house all youth and young adults! We look forward to a year in 2021 of many successes with these programs. We are delighted HUD committed this important funding to San Antonio and Bexar County. Stay tuned!”
With years of experience helping San Antonians in need find a place to call home, SARAH knows just how important it is to listen, engage, and make data-driven decisions to educate and lead in ways that drive positive change.
How Can You Help Fight Homelessness?
Looking to make a difference for a neighbor in need this holiday season? Our Youth Resilient Project is currently seeking donations to support young residents:
- hygiene products to include: shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, loofahs, lotion, deodorant, combs, feminine hygiene products
- linens to include: bedding sets, pillows, shower curtain, bathmat, towels
- household items: utensils, bowls, plates, Tupperware, dishrack, cleaning supplies, microwaves, coffee machine
- gift cards for HEB and Walmart
- furniture to include mattresses, bed frames, nightstands, loveseats, small kitchen tables
- monetary donations
Endeavors, a San Antonio based nonprofit, is a longstanding national nonprofit agency that provides an array of programs and services supporting children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness, disabilities, disasters, or emergencies. Endeavors has served vulnerable people in need since 1969 through personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.