An organization that started helping vulnerable, abused and homeless young people more than 45 years ago is getting almost $3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD awarded Valley Youth House more than $2.9 million to renew and start more Rapid ReHousing programs around southeastern Pennsylvania. That’s an increase of $500,000 over last year’s grant.
VYH’s Rapid ReHousing programs provide housing and support services for families and individuals experiencing homelessness, enabling them to transition to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.
In Philadelphia, the money helped VYH to provide young adults with extended financial assistance, as well as more housing and additional emergency services through its street outreach team.
“The HUD funds awarded to VYH through the Philadelphia [Continuum of Care, part of the city’s Office of Homeless Services] assist young adults with rent payments, housing-stability coaching and related support services,” said Allison Moore, senior vice president of the organization’s southeast programs. “The increase in funding allowed our agency to help more people move into stable housing, making their experience with homelessness rare, brief and ideally non-recurring.”
VYH was started in Lehigh Valley in 1973 to ensure youth there had access to shelter and counseling. Its Pride program, now 10 years old, is the longest-running housing program for LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia.
Part of the Pride program is the advocacy campaign #CouchesDontCount. Studies show 7 percent of U.S. youth are homeless, and that 40 percent of them identify as LGBTQ. In Philadelphia, a recent youth count suggested as many as 64 percent of homeless youth are couch-surfing or staying with friends or acquaintances.
Also, VYH was licensed as a National Safe Place Agency last month.
“Safe Place is an outreach and prevention program for young people in need of immediate help and safety,” explained Joelle Pitts, director of Bucks and Montgomery County programs. “We are excited to be a part of this nationally recognized program that will allow us to better incorporate our community and local businesses in our attempt to create a safety net for young people who need a caring adult or a safe place to turn to in crisis.”
VYH will also host special events to support its programming.
“In June, we will once again partner with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services in our annual Backpack Challenge,” said Shawn Mack, development officer for the southeast region. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the community to connect with us to ensure that all youth in foster care receive the necessary supplies to start the school year.”
VYH will host its first golf tournament in September, and its annual “Always Bet on Youth Casino Night”in October.
VYH has more than 250 residential sites throughout Pennsylvania and anticipates housing 300 children and 650 young adults across 18 counties this year.
For more information, visit https://www.valleyyouthhouse.org or call 610-820-0166 ext. 1824.