With its one-month “One Night Without a Bed” challenge, the Detroit Phoenix Center aims to raise awareness of the homelessness of young people.
According to the organization, 4.2 million young people worldwide become homeless every year. The Phoenix Center encourages community members to sleep one night without a bed, anywhere, as long as it is outside of their comfort zone.
“Young people who are homeless here are often hidden in sight. ”- Courtney Smith, Founder and CEO of the Detroit Phoenix Center
“We’re not saying that one night everyone will understand or experience being homeless, ”explains Courtney Smith, die CEO and founder of the Phoenix Center. “But we’re only asking that people feel uncomfortable so that a young person doesn’t have to be. Awareness-raising makes an invisible crisis visible. And we are soliciting a donation to the Detroit Phoenix Center to continue to provide the vital resources and support we provide to young people who are at risk and actively homeless year round. “
As COVID-19 continues to rise in the state, shelters are pushing to stay open as long as possible to serve as many people as possible, but unfortunately they cannot support all. ”People [are still being] financially affected by the pandemic, but much of the social support has been cut, “says Smith. “We see a lot of demand and of course there are never enough resources. But we are bridging the gap where we can by offering drop-in services and then also food and emergency aid as well as hotel vouchers for people who need emergency accommodation. “
Smith says young people in and around Detroit are facing an invisible crisis.
“Young people who are homeless here are often hidden from view, ”she says. “They surf on the couch, live twice, they live with family and friends. And often it’s not the young people who you see with a sign on the side of the road. “
Smith says with the end of the rental moratoria in the city, it is important for more people to know what teenage homelessness looks like as the signs can be very subtle.
“Some of these indicators in our world when a young person is food insecure … when they might be asking for food, right? That is an indicator, or whether they continue when they are chronically absent from school, when they miss many days of school. “
“One night without a bed ”started on November 30th and runs until the end of December.