Night outdoors will put spotlight on homelessness

The Youth Services Bureau of Huntington County is offering local residents the opportunity to spend the night outside in a city park in an effort to raise awareness of the problems faced by local youth.

November Night Out will take place on Friday, Nov. 3, at the YSB office, 1344 Maple Drive, Huntington.

An informational event for the community will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the YSB office. Several speakers will discuss homelessness in rural communities, and specifically Huntington County, and how community providers are addressing the problem. The video “Homeward Bound” will be shown.
The informational event is free and open to the public.

The evening will turn into a fund-raiser at 8 p.m., when participants in that portion of the event will move into cardboard boxes in Drover Park, adjacent to the YSB office. They will stay in the park until 6 a.m.

Participants in the overnight portion of the event are asked to seek donations or sponsors. For each $10 raised, the participant will be allowed to bring one item — water, a pillow, a flashlight, a blanket, a sleeping bag or a lawn chair.

Participants in the overnight event can register that evening, but are encouraged to register in advance by contacting the Youth Services Bureau at 356-9681 or d.snyder@ys

All money raised will be used for homelessness services and prevention, says Danielle Snyder, who coordinates the YSB’s Safe Place/Host Home programs for runaways and homeless youth.

Jan Williams, executive director of the YSB, says the YSB is currently working with five homeless youth in Huntington County. The true number of youth without homes is difficult to determine, she says.

“It is so hard because so many of these homeless youth are couch surfers,” she says.

“These young people are often hiding in plain sight. They are sleeping on friends’ or relatives’ couches, sleeping in cars or campgrounds. These you-ng people try to keep their lives as normal as possible so they attend school, participate in community events, etc. in an effort to not bring attention to themselves,” Williams says.

She says youth may become homeless because they identify as LGBTQ, have mental health issues, have been mistreated, suffer from substance abuse or lack affordable housing.

For additional information, contact the Youth Services Bureau.