Youth Homelessness: Government and Grassroots Efforts to Tackle this Issue

The Housing Opportunity Committee met Wednesday morning and one of the meeting’s main topics of discussion was the problem of youth homelessness.

The number of young people experiencing homelessness can be hard to estimate, but the figures are higher than you may think. Family conflict, economic circumstances, and mental heath/substance abuse issues factor strongly in driving youth homelessness.

Jasmine Hayes, Deputy Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness reported that the agency works on identifying young people who need help. They concentrate on assisting them on four tracks: emotional well being, education/employment, stable housing (finding them a safe, reliable place to call home) and permanent connectedness.

In the open discussion part of the meeting, Shelly Duncan, Broker/Owner of Double D Real Estate and Associates spoke about a personal connection she had with youth homelessness. As a Wyoming broker in a rural area, she was stunned at statistics showing even in her small town there was a significant number of young people who were without a stable home. These may be difficult to count officially as they may be simply seen as “couch surfing” as they shift from friends’ homes and places friendly to an overnight stay.

Duncan purchased tote bags and encouraged local brokers and vendors to fill the bags with toiletries and small items that young people may need such as toothpaste, deodorant, snacks, and more. Duncan shows that one person can make a difference if they spot a need in their own community, with a little creativity and effort. She now has brokers in other associations creating and filling their own totes and supporting her grassroots effort to tackle youth homelessness. For more information on how Duncan started her program and how you may start your own effort in your own backyard, Shelly’s contact info is on her website at



Erica Ramus

Erica Ramus is the broker/owner of RAMUS Realty Group in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. She was in NAR’s REALTOR® University’s first graduating class to earn the MRE degree and she serves on both state and national REALTOR® group committees. She teaches pre-licensing and continuing education real estate courses at Penn State University and is on the Board of Regents at Realtor University.

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