Homelessness in Grand Traverse Region Has Increased for Young People Since 2017

Housing instability in Northern Michigan is a widespread issue, especially for those under the age of 25.

“We know that homelessness is a terrible thing for anyone to experience, especially for a young person,” said Ryan Hannon, Street Outreach Manager for Goodwill Northern Michigan.

In 2017, the Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness started calculating how many 16 to 24-year-olds are experiencing homelessness.

“We’ve really invested in our system to prevent and end youth homelessness,” said Ashley Halladay-Schmandt, Director of the Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness. “We’ve put resources, staff, and system support in place to find young people experiencing homelessness.”

And through those resources, they’ve been able to mark how much youth do experience homelessness.

“At about any given time we have about 20 to 30 [youth] in the Grand Traverse region alone,” Halladay-Schmandt said.

While they have seen a decrease in first time homelessness for young people, there’s been an increase in how long young people stay homeless.

“What our data is showing right now is that people are staying homeless longer,” said Halladay-Schmandt. “Folks are not able to leave homelessness as quickly as we would like them to be.”

Ryan Hannon heads a street outreach program for Goodwill Northern Michigan and he has seen young adults living on the streets.

“We have seen, or at least we’re paying attention to more, young people experiencing homelessness,” said Hannon. “We really take a look at the young people and really help them in the best way we can.”

That help first comes through trust.

“It’s relationship building and trust building in the beginning,” Halladay-Schmandt said. “We really want to stay true to what they want in housing and sometimes that means reunifying with their family, sometimes that means moving to a support system they have elsewhere in the state.”

While there are shelters like Safe Harbor and Pete’s Place that offer support, Halladay-Schmandt and Hannon both agree on how to end the cycle: housing.

“Any time a new development is being built in the city of Traverse City, we would like to see a set aside unit for people experiencing homelessness, especially young people,” Halladay-Schmandt said.

“Homelessness is an issue that can be solved, and it affects people that are experiencing it,” Hannon said. “We know housing is the answer to homelessness.”

Categories: Michigan This Morning