SPOKANE, Wash --- Spokane outreach group walks the streets every week trying to help any homeless youth they find.
The Youth Outreach Team from Volunteers of America hit the downtown streets each week, looking for young people living on the streets.
“If they need water, we’re here, if they need snacks, we’re here, any resources that we can help them with,” said a Volunteers of America staff member, James Payne.
Payne, Selena Alvarez and Carly Bowles walk the streets, but their true mission goes far beyond just water, snacks and toiletries.
“It’s that relationship building that gets them from point A to point B and I feel like this is a really good way to establish those,” said Alvarez.
They hope they can build bonds with these people and help them get off the street. It can be more challenging than expected.
“As soon as they start talking about housing they’re like no no no we’re not about that I like being homeless. Everyday you’re having to push the youth to make them feel like they are worth more than what they have,” said Alvarez.
Payne is someone who knows what they are going through from personal experience.
“I was in this situation before I was living in a van, with my parents here and there and it’s not really for anyone,” said Payne.
So they walk the streets for hours every week, hoping to change at least one young life.
“The few times that we actually run into a new youth and actually help and make a difference for them that day then it was totally worth it,” said Payne.
This youth outreach work is just one way local organizations are working with the city of Spokane to eliminate youth homelessness. About 26% of Spokane's homeless population is younger than 24-years-old. The city along with several local community organizations are participating in the "100 Youth, 100 Days" challenge to reduce that number. It's an effort to get 100 young people off the street within 100 days. So far there have been 50 youths housed.
The 100 Youth, 100 Days campaign continues Friday morning, at Crosswalk where the city and it’s community partners will be doing a donation drive.