The first meeting of the Homeless and At-Risk Youth Network Initiative took place on January 12, at The Days Inn, N. Stevens Street in Rhinelander.
Representatives from Salvation Army, Forward Services, KIN Rhinelander, Rhinelander School District, and The Lifeboat Foundation were present to discuss the increasing problems of youth homelessness and those at-risk of becoming homeless in Rhinelander. Although we do not see youth in cardboard boxes on our local streets all representatives agreed that we have a hidden problem. Rhinelader School District, through the Homeless Liaison, Mary Rudis, and KIN Rhinelander, who operate an out of school hours drop in center on Brown Street, gave the meeting recent case examples of homeless and at-risk youth.
The latest figures (2013-2014) reported by homeless liaison officers from public schools across US reported 1-3 million cases of homeless and at-risk youth in their schools. This was a 7% increase nationally over the previous year and 100% increase since 2007. The statistics indicate that these homeless or at-risk youth are 87% more likely to drop out of school when education is the route to avoid homelessness in the first place.
The representatives present at the meeting shared their stories and future plans to help the homeless and at-risk youth in Rhinelander. KIN is moving to larger premises in February to cope with the ever increasing number of young people who visit their drop-in services on Brown Street. The Lifeboat Foundation outlined its plans to offer a scheme of Host Home accommodation for homeless and at-risk youth that will take effect over the next few months.
The next meeting of the Initiative is planned for March 9 at the new KIN premises on Brown Street.