SAN ANTONIO — About 1.7 million kids in the U.S. experience homelessness every year, according to StandUp For Kids, a nonprofit organization trying to end the cycle of youth homelessness.
Adrian Ramirez, executive director of operations for the chapter, said they are working to continue that goal with their new outreach center.
“We may not be able to impact every youth at a young age, but whatever change we can make, that is the most important part of our program," Ramirez said.
The San Antonio center is the seventh such facility the nonprofit will be operating across the country.
“We’ve been providing outreach services out of cars, backpacks, suitcases, anything we can carry," Ramirez said.
Located in the Ella Austin Community Center, the new outreach center facilitates an around-the-clock approach to serving homeless youth. It's currently taking appointments for any child and young adult between the ages of 13 and 25.
“Currently we are providing food items and hygiene items. Later this summer, we will be rolling out our mentoring program. We also provide access to mental health programs, housing services—housing support services," Ramirez said.
Youth homelessness is an issue in San Antonio, and the pandemic has made it harder to reach those kids.
“It’s a big economic gap and it’s also a gap between mental states," said Greg Smith, national executive director for StandUp for Kids.
The center is located less than a mile away from a large homeless encampment located under I-37, and is set to open a little more than a week after city council members voted to lease a downtown hotel to use as a homeless shelter.
Homelessness is a problem the newly elected councilman representing District 2, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, hopes to keep in the spotlight.
“I think it’s a worthwhile issue and you’ll see me advocate for that," McKee-Rodriguez said. "I think you can see a few others advocate for that as well.”
Ramirez said in order to expand their services, they need more volunteers. If interested, visit the StandUp for Kids website.