Five Northern Michigan Counties Covered In Million Dollar Homeless Youth Grant

Youth homelessness in Northern Michigan may not be as obvious as it is with adults.

It is a local problem that’s getting some national attention.

Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Kalkaska and Antrim counties make up the only region in the state getting a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to end youth homelessness.

“We know that there’s at least 200, but really that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Two hundred kids or young adults between ages 11 and 24 that are homeless and reaching out for help, but local agencies say there’s more out there. Northern Michigan is no stranger to homelessness, but youth homelessness is something that can go unnoticed.

David VanHorn was in and out of the foster care system and experienced homelessness off and on for more than a year. “The challenge I feel like with being younger that is okay well someone would be there to help you lookout with you anyway, for me that’s kind of how it was, well you have another option correct, well I’m like I don’t.”

Just one of the many in the 11 to 24 age bracket that this $1.3 million grant will help.

The grant will go to the Homeless Youth Initiative that’s made up of several agencies that work with homeless youth across the region in different perspectives. The grant coordinator for the initiative, Marjie Rich says, “It’s a four year grant so the first six months we will spend with the five communities, five county area that we’re working with coming up with a strategic plan for how to move forward with the remainder of the grant.”

On the agenda, developing more housing and support for homeless youth.

For David and Marjie this grant isn’t just about money, but hope for a better future.

David VanHorn says “So I hope with the grant it does bring some light to something like hey we can help you establish yourself.”

Marjie Rich says, “An acknowledgment that this is an issue and as a community we can’t let these youth fall by the wayside.”

Once the plan is approved after the first six months Rich says we will start seeing the grant put in use. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave a total of $33 million to communities across the state. This region was the only recipient in Michigan.