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Kokomo Discusses Homelessness

By February 6, 2013 No Comments

Focus on homeless aims to end couch-surfing By April Thatcher  and Sean Cameron The phrase “couch-surfing” may conjure images of big waves and surf boards, but for several local teens the term describes what happens when the tides of their lives come crashing in. The Urban Dictionary defines couch-surfing in two ways: 1. A cheap form of lodging used mainly by college-students or recent college-grads, where one stays on acquaintance’s couches rather than a hotel. 2. What someone who cannot afford rent on their own and/or cannot find roommates quickly enough does when they are between places. Kokomo Couch SurfingAlthough similar, the definitions vary in one key facet: the first definition implies a choice, while the second reflects a lack of one. In our own community, couch-surfing occurs when teens are simply trying to find a decent place to sleep for the night. In the best of situations, they find a willing relative or friend. In the worst, they can place themselves in dangerous circumstances out of desperation. Shannon Querry, who works closely with at-risk teens at the Crossing Educational Center, describes the catch-22 these youth often face. “They don’t consider themselves homeless, and technically they are not,” she says. “But having a roof over your head, does not necessarily mean you don’t have a problem. Sometimes home is the least safe place to be.” James Jakus, an educator at The Crossing says the students face similar challenges as traditional homeless. “In some ways they are homeless by choice, but that ‘choice’ is the lesser of two evils,” he says. “They may come from a situation where they are manipulated or victimized, and they have to remove themselves from that. Often, the couch of a willing friend is the only way. The problem is when that couch becomes as bad as the place they left.” The National Coalition for the Homeless classifies causes of homelessness among youth into three inter-related categories: family problems, economic problems, and residential instability. Querry say that the majority of the couch-surfers face at least one, if not all of the above. “These young people have so many things working against them,” she notes. “We try to teach them the necessary tools they need to be productive citizens in our community, and help them become self-sufficient. But even with that, there are some circumstances we still can’t change.” The problem is multi-faceted, and according to Querry and her peers at the Crossing, requires a multi-faceted solution. “We continue to seek remedies for the situations of our students, and often they provide the most valuable insight into the problem,” Querry says. “But this is a family problem, an education problem – a community problem. We all have to work together to solve it.” Until that happens, says Jakus, kids will continue to seek out an empty couch. (Do you have a creative or innovative solution? Are you willing to lay the brickwork for a grassroots foundation? Do you have a home that you would like to donate? If you have answered yes to any of these questions please contact Cristi Brewer Allen or Shannon Querry at squerry@crossingcec.com) Read the original article:  Kokomo Herald]]>

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