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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 154

A recent study revealed there were “34,210 unaccompanied youth under the age of 25 experiencing homelessness”. That is an increase overall of 7.9% from 2019 to 2021. We know the risk of trauma and lasting adverse impacts is greater for youth. We also know that children experiencing homelessness experience additional health challenges. With all the shelters and transitional housing available, the problem doesn’t seem to be lack of interest in our youth. But then what is it then? This talk is about the driver “Childhood Poverty” and how the issues of youth poverty and homelessness are different from that of adults for many complex reasons:

  • Tekoah Boatner, HS-BCP - Executive Director Youth Oasis

  • Jeffrey Jones - Anchor House Program Director

  • Carrie Patterson, LCSW - LABOSCOC Continuum of Care Manager at Louisiana Housing Corporation

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Tekoah Boatner: Again, everyone. And I of course initially started with this question coming from my normal origin points, which is gonna be a mix of philosophy and political science. So I could go through what Socrates played on kindergarten would say about why youth homelessness still exists. But honestly it really comes back to something I heard on a housing conference a while ago, and it's a policy decision. And so youth homelessness exists because we allow homelessness to exist as a manner of policy. And why do I say that? I say we do that because it's a matter of policy, because our policies are not cre created or designed. To eliminate or provide housing. Again, I come back to really basic simple concepts because I work with youth and you often have to think that way. But we are now in a society where you can't exist on a plot of land without some form of investment. And if you are not able to acquire investment without the infrastructure that's in place, then you will not survive. And so some more tangible reasons, we have no infrastructure that is designed to support the those of us without access to what we have. Placed in outside society for people to move around something Casey mentioned the sidewalks and the bicycle lanes. And so if you live in a very rural area, you have to make a choice every day between risking your life to go walk outside or staying home and trying to find another way to get groceries because you don't have a car, there's no public transportation. And our policies reflect our priorities. And given that kids are com compulsory required to be at school, and the fact that we have no pipelines of support and or infrastructure around that one place where all the children will be as mandated by law, again, suggest where our priorities lie.

Carrie Patterson: I am the COC manager for your federally funded homeless coalition, the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of Care. Thank you to COA for introducing youth homelessness as primarily a policy problem. What I'd like to talk to you guys about today is a super exciting opportunity that is only available once a year and sometimes not every year for the Baton Rouge community to work towards accessing additional funding. Specifically to work towards ending youth homelessness in our Baton Rouge region. So the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project Application is now open and the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of Care is applying to HUD Housing and Urban Development to have the Baton Rouge community selected as a Youth Homelessness Demonstration project community. What this means is that if we're successful in proving to hood that we have both the resources, so everybody on this call plus more who don't know about One Rouge working on youth services in Baton Rouge. So if we have got the resources, then we've got the capacity and the will to concentrate to make concentrated efforts to end youth homelessness in our area. But then also that we're engaging with young people with lived expertise of homelessness to better inform how we craft policies that help direct funding towards ending youth homelessness in this area. This is a highly competitive grant process. This c o c has applied twice before unsuccessfully to try and secure this funding. And I'm so excited to be able to help drive this process for another chance. Some of the most exciting things about being selected as a youth homelessness demonstration project community is that funding comes with it. The floor of this funding is $600,000 of annual renewable funding specifically not just for providing housing projects for youth experiencing homelessness, but also to drive system change to help ensure that our homelessness services community is paying special attention to the unique needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. And so I do have an ask for everyone. It's actually a twofold. One, my colleague Andrew, is gonna be putting in the chat a link to a Google form. What we are looking for is is helped connecting with youth who have lived experience of homelessness, either as young adults now, so 18 to 24 or they've had lived experience of homelessness as a child in their household, family of origin, or however they grew up. Again, policy like Tako said it drives everything. And if we are not incorporating the voices of youth into how we craft the system that extensively serves them, then we are already falling shorts in terms of maximizing our opportunity to affect significant change in our community. So ask number one is if you have youth that you know you work with, you think you've got people who know youth who have lived experience of homelessness, we're asking them to consider to giving us some time. And so there's a youth action board interest form that is in the chat. Thank you, Andrew. All folks have to do is fill it out if they're interested. We'll then be sending out emails to schedule the initial interest meeting. But they can also ask questions and see what we're about. Because I'm very much understand that trust has to be earned and built through relationships. In order for folks to feel comfortable in really investing their time and their energy into doing this type of work. And thank you all for sharing that link with your networks. And then the other piece is if you're interested in giving us information from your expertise about working with youth experiencing homelessness in the Baton Rouge area, please put your email in the chat. Andrew might be or will be collecting those, and Mike Gray will be reaching out to you with some additional questions, but I'll reserve my time unless I've already gone over. Thank you.

Jeffrey Jones: Absolutely. Look, first off, it's been 154 weeks that y'all have done this, so I'm honored to to sit down with y'all today and share just a little bit about what I do. I'm the program director for the anchor house that's in Baton Rouge. It's a 18 month transitional living program that addresses youth homelessness. Our goal is to stabilize youth for up to 18 months and give them the necessary tools needed to transition into independence. So that's the short version of it. I can always circle back and answer some questions at the end. But let me just tell you just a little bit about me. So I grew up in a very good home. Youth homelessness was not something that I was born into. But I chose it around the age of 17 when I thought that drugs would be a better way for me to experience life. And my curiosity brought me to a place that I really had a hard time getting out of. And for the better part of 15 or 20 years I was in and out of jail, in and out of rehab, living in my car. And it's so just interesting to me to see the choice that I made and where I ended up, and then how that came back full circle to where now I can share my experience and my strength and my hope with young people that are in Baton Rouge and looking for some of the resources that I needed when I was their age. So that's my journey. In the short version, I would just tell you that I love what I do. I'm very passionate about the work that I get to do, and I am excited to serve the young people of Baton Rouge. Being able to see them succeed for me is what keeps me going. I think you have to love what you do and. This is not something that I want to do for a job. It's something that I feel called to do, and so I give it my all and I noticed like early on in the process that we were trying to raise the level of expectation for our youth. And so we would say, Hey going ahead and come in we're gonna give you all the resources that you need. We're gonna set you up to be successful. And then as they got into our program, we realized that like we were trying to raise the bar to a level that they couldn't reach and I had to learn that rather than trying to raise the bar to get the youth in, I had to lower it to get them in. And then once I lowered that bar, I was able to build a relationship by building trust and transparency without the fear of. Them suffering consequences if they can't get every, get everything right the first time, and this has been a very eye-opening experience for me. But it's been such a blessing. And I wouldn't change it for the world. I wouldn't change my story. God's using it for good and I'm having a blast doing it. So at the end, I can circle back and answer any questions if y'all need me to fill in some gaps on the services that we have.

Casey Phillips: Adonica was bringing up everybody in their organization kinda has that one piece of data, right? That they bring into a meeting that's this is what drives the work that I do. And it's a really powerful piece of data. That really helps exemplify the problem. Tekoah what is, what would be one of those pieces of data for you? And I'm gonna ask Carrie and Jeffrey, the same question and then

Tekoah Boatner: It, I'm going to give a unnecessarily complex answer to that cause I could be straight more straightforward, but I choose not to today. The data that informs my work is actually the lack of data. What I have found in the time that I do my work is there are different numbers in different institutions regarding the number of children who are simply disconnected. And I'm just gonna use that broad term because they could either be experiencing homelessness, family separation, family policing, incarceration, or institutionalization, disconnected from society at large, which means they're disconnected from the streams that lead to some sort of safety, security, and happiness, which is promised by our Declaration of Independence and other documents. However, what happens when children get into any one of these systems is we stop following them and we leave the reporting of the data up to the institutions, which means we are not getting the full story. So the data that informs my work is where are the kids? And we need to be able to find out where their journey start stops and ends so we can find those paths of disruption and get into them and disrupt them so we can stop the path.

Casey Phillips: That is surprising and a little disheartening in the moment, but good. It's good to know the truth. And I said that's thank you for sharing that. Carrie, what's your thoughts on that?

Carrie Patterson: I hate to keep following up with pretty much the same information, but that is pretty much exactly what I was gonna say. Less eloquently and potentially less passionately. But we have disconnected systems in terms of our institutions that are charged with serving the citizens of Louisiana in terms of just sharing basic information, but also sharing definitions of what counts as homelessness, right? So there's a lot of data out there. The Department of Education does monthly surveys that include collecting information on youth experiencing homelessness. The Department of Education also uses a definition of youth homelessness that does not match up with the categories of homelessness that HUD provides funding for. And so the Department of Education has a much broader definition of what constitutes youth homelessness matching up that data, or it's a bit of a tall order right now is something that I believe there have been start, stop types of initiatives over the course of the past several years. We also don't have a system in place where DCFS and O J, your two child welfare or institutions that will take youth into their custody, right? One is adjudicated youth, the other youth and protective custody. Don't talk with ldh. In any meaningful way, don't talk with the Department of Education in a meaningful way, and certainly don't talk with, say, Louisiana Housing Corporation, the Housing Finance Agency for the state that serves as the collaborative applicant for the balance, the state continuum of care the Y H D P process if you're selected as a community. Then there is a a speed race to try and get the most comprehensive youth-led community plan to end homelessness. That then drives what type of projects we ask HUD to fund in terms of housing for youth. Part of that plan involves engaging with those state institutions and trying to create more of a or more of a collaborative communication line. Because what we do know is that youth homelessness, if it can be prevented, serves as primary prevention to a lot of other things that matter to people on this call, but society at large. And if we can connect with those institutions that are in a position to potentially discharge youth into homelessness, Identify those youth that are at risk of being discharged into homelessness with enough time to put interventions in place, then we're able to stem that inflow into our into our homelessness system. And the disconnection that Toko talks about it's a huge piece of the challenge involved in digging into making a comprehensive system that that ensures that if youth experience homelessness, they do so rarely that experience homelessness is one time. And that they that they don't have an experience of homelessness that lasts for a long period of time. Thank you for that, Jeffrey. What's got, what's turned in your head there? So in 2021, there was over 400 crisis contacts throughout the state for youth who were fleeing the home that they were living in. It was very eye-opening to know that these crisis contacts were made from inside the home rather than on the streets being homeless.

Jeffrey Jones: They we're fleeing ultimately what should be a safe space for them and entering into a society where there were not resources available to fully equip the youth that were fleeing the home. I think that's just very eye-opening. It, it's we think of trying to have safe and stable housing for our, for our youth, but they don't even feel safe and stable in the home that they live in. And so they turn to outside resources to see if there's a way that we can meet that need. But being 12 to 17 years old, it's really difficult to access the resources that you need when you don't know what's available. But I'm thankful that each person on the call today plays a role in the lives of our youth. And I believe that all of us together as we continue moving forward will make the impact necessary for the youth in Baton Rouge.

Pepper Roussel: Y'all. I have so many questions and I'm sorry that I'm late and I'm coming with questions because I just don't understand. I am really confused and so lettuce level sets. Carrie, if we don't have a consistent definition of homelessness, but HUD funds homelessness, what are we funding and how does that differ from, is it, is this a stupid question because I feel like I should know the answer to this.

Carrie Patterson: It is so not a stupid question. Pepper, thank you for bringing it up. This is bread and butter of. What my team and I are up to our eyeball then. But it's incredibly dense, confusing, and obfuscated for everyone else that's not eyeball deep in this, right? So hud the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of Care, we bring in over $22 million into 22 parishes on an annual basis. Roughly around 7 million of those dollars is spent in the Baton Rouge region. Those projects primarily serve folks who are experiencing category one and category four homelessness. This is HUD speak, right? Category one homelessness means that you are experiencing literal homelessness, sleeping on the street park bench in a car placed or not meant for human habitation or a hotel motel that is paid for by a charitable or government organization.

Pepper Roussel: Category four means that you are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, which is a large umbrella that includes trafficking that's come up in the chat. Domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, et cetera. That's the biggest chunk of funding goes to serve people with those experiences of homelessness.

Now to your question in the chat oh, I'm sorry. Let me not digress. There's so much to talk about here. The definition that's used by the Department of Education is falls into what's considered category three, which you notice I did not mention. So homeless by any other statutes, that's where you get the broader definition of youth who are living, doubled up.

Too many people living in a household for it to be comfortable moving once every three months to additional or sleeping locations that. You or no one in your household is part of Party to a least two? That broader definition is what the Department of Education uses, and so you'll see that their numbers in terms of youth experiencing homelessness it are much higher than what's counted by say, your continuum of care.

We also know that youth in general are reluctant for some very solid reasons to engage with your mainstream homeless services providers. Your homeless services system is built for 18 plus, right? And it primarily caters caters it primarily serves folks who are outside of that youth range and folks who've had long time experiences of homelessness. We are seeing a ton of folks that are. Experiencing first time homelessness, young families living in their cars. But we're also seeing a huge surge of folks who are older experiencing first time homelessness. We like other institutions, I'm happy to be transparent here, have not had targeted resources dedicated to crafting a system that actually meets the unique needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. And that's something that we're interested in changing. And it involves having community groundswell like what we find here at the One Rouge meeting. And then to the question in the chat, pepper, it has not existed like many other civil rights human rights movements over the course of just say, this nation children are an afterthought Child labor laws didn't come into place until when, I'm sure someone on this call knows. We're having those conversations again. All news article about two 10 year olds working overnight at McDonald's in a state that's not this one. And unfortunately more of the same pepper, but we do have an opportunity to continue to shift that needle to try and mobilize both policy funding and then energy people time working towards ending that youth hall. Okay. So part of my question has now more questions. The Tiko you were mentioning that when children go into the systems that somehow we lose them. I presume that's because we are expecting that there is some sort of tracking that already exists. Carrie's already answered that it never existed, but what sorts of things need to be in place? Cuz this sounds like a behe. In order to figure out where pe, where children who have been put and where they will be in order to keep them off of streets.

Tekoah Boatner: What is needed? I'll be overly simplistic here. Transparency. Now to be overly simplistic and now a little bit spicy transparency. But then we also need to end family policing and i e child welfare. Now I say that because as a provider in that space, I've always worked to make sure that our services are not continuing to perpetuate the harms that require the need of the service. That's the goal, right? The other. Area of child welfare and family policing though, is that our social services policy in America is a weird mix of trickle down economics and containment versus confinement, which are again, Forgive my background, poli sci philosophy, these two things. But what I mean by that is we fundamentally, or not we, but our society fundamentally believes that if we stack our resources at the top, they will trickle down to those in need, and who sits at the very bottom of that? Children. And because we've seen the real effects of trickle down policy, I won't give gi I won't lead you to the answer, but we, you've experienced those impacts, right? Is it working? I don't know. That's for you to answer, right? So that jazz dad, but then the con containment and confinement policy is we either want to contain what we don't wanna see a deal about, or we'll confine it so that other people don't have to deal with it or see it. Now if you look at, again, all of these institutions, there are always these pockets of confinement and containment. And unfortunately, the people who cannot speak the loudest will always be funneled there. And that is our youth. And talking about our policies, I do believe it's a policy decision. It's a policy decision, but it's also a personal policy decision. And what I mean by that is each of us have our guiding stars, right? Our personal policies. What that mean is when you see something, you will act in a certain way because you fundamentally believe that this is the people who keep sandwiches in the car to hand out. This is people who keep loose dollars. Your policy is to never let X happen to Y, right? Personally, our personal policies are not expansive enough to evoke this change back to you.

Carrie Patterson: Okay? I'm gonna digest that for a minute, but I do have some questions for or at least this question for Jeffrey, the experience that you had as a, an unhoused person, help me understand how that knowledge, how you can share with us what it is that we need to be doing for the youth who are most vulnerable.

Pepper Roussel: I'm seeing in the chat around the lgbtqia plus communities, but also those who have addictions who are really just trying to escape whatever situations that they happen to be in. I know that there's not one answer, but how do we get closer?

Jeffrey Jones: That's a great question. You get closer by building trust and transparency, free from consequence by starting with building the connection. And then empowering the youth and then correcting them last, that's really the formula for success. They wanna know that it's okay to open up about their personal struggles without the fear of being judged being handed down a consequence because they made a bad choice. And it really just I think it takes a person who's been in their shoes to really be the most effective. Now that may not be true across the board. It's just what my experience has been. All those years that I spent in and outta rehab, I met some incredible people that were in rehab who really wanted to get clean or get free. And had every reason to do so and just struggled with overcoming it. That's what it looks like from the addiction side. But the same thing is true for the l g BT Q I A plus youth. For youth that are experiencing homelessness or domestic violence within the home. It's the it's the same approach no matter what the struggle is and I think when you can really empathize with the youth and rather than try to lecture them through their struggle, just listen and encourage and understand and empower. And if we do that consistently, it opens up future opportunities for us to ultimately make the change. I think that you have to start small as well. I would much rather invest my time into one youth and give quality work than I would try to meet a bunch of numbers. I've seen that the best, most successful moments that I have had is when we just focused on the individual rather than trying to meet the data. That's just my personal experience with that.

Pepper Roussel: I feel that, right? Because it's easier to to make a change with one person than it is to try to make systemic change because these are all interconnected systems of oppression that make it very difficult to do much of anything. Protects the most vulnerable. But anyway since we all have to, or are currently living in a system that has not yet been burned down, despite the fact that I continue to offer we need to be making money at actually doing the things in order to remain living indoors. So how can we actually get the HUD dollars or get the money while we do the work and serve the individual? Is that a possibility or do we need to focus on one or the other? Do we have to choose.

Tekoah Boatner: So I'm gonna jump in here because Carrie is gonna give us a really good, solid explanation of how to get the dollars here. But when talking about dollars, as someone who is charged with using those dollars effectively, I want to clear up a common myth about getting the dollars, and I'm gonna clear it up with the simple statement is, money follows impact. You have to do the work first. And people tend to get that flipped. I speak with people who wanna say, how do I get grants? What have you done? You have to do the work first. And we as a community don't have data to show that we've done the work that we're investing into the kids so that somebody can say, Hey, I see what they're doing over here. They need more money, let's give it to them. Carrie, take it away.

Carrie Patterson: Thank you so much, Dakota. Yes. And I will be the first to say that the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of care has not been able to give sustained support to really engaging youth experiencing homelessness and supporting them in the ways that they need to engage in this level of policy discussion. And now we are at a point where we've got the capacity to help support that. At the same time that we've got a lot of community development within the last two years spurred on, in part by the acute phase of the pandemic. And full on cosign it's time to do the work and the doing of the work will bring us better opportunities to bring in funding. And part of part of the struggles that this community and this homeless coalition have had in in really creating policies that are specific to, to ending youth homelessness is that we've not been able to consistently have engagement with youth who have been served or not served by our systems. And so a big push that we're gonna be making, whether or not we receive Y H D P funding, because it's, again, a highly competitive funding stream, is doing that work to support youth who have said, yes, I would like to invest. Part of me into helping to make this community more equipped to, to serving youth who are experiencing homelessness or preventing youth from experiencing homelessness. And so that's the type of support and the type of work that whether or not the funding comes at the same time beforehand, after that never comes quite honestly. The work itself is is the important bit in terms of moving that needle ahead.

Pepper Roussel: So two or two-parter actually are sort of bifurcation of a single question as we're talking about. Yes, you've gotta do the work first. There are always grassroots organizations well-meaning individuals. Black and brown people who are in the trenches doing the work and just don't get money for it. And so when I ask that question, it really is like, how do we get those stream, those funding streams into the hands of folks who are already on the ground? And do we have to choose how it is that we are, that we that we serve in community, but as we were talking about the more marginalized folks, our new neighbors, right? There's a question in the chat about that that's already been answered, but we're gonna lift it up anyway. This HUD for homelessness required sense, the paperwork on the side of the person needing support. Once we get into a place where we gotta prove citizenship, that's a deal breaker for some. Help me understand what is it that we have in place in order to support those of us who are just new to the area.

Carrie Patterson: It is a complicated question. I'll take the easiest one first. For HUD funded c o c program dollars, and so that funds your Continuum of Care work. It also funds that Y H D P funding stream. Your projects are barred from requesting proof of citizenship. You can request proof of residence. Do you live in this area? That's where the funds are attached to, but not proof of legal documentation. First certificate, social security card. All of those items are things that HUD says we cannot say You've gotta have these documents in hand before we serve you person experiencing homelessness. However, if you're trying to serve someone experiencing homelessness with a tenant based rental assistance, funding stream, landlords want that documentation. And so while it's not a barrier for project participation, it's certainly a barrier for securing a lease. If. You have tenant-based rental assistance is the largest type of project that's funded through the C o C program. And the, at one level, the policy fi barriers have been removed. If you've been doing work in housing for the last 10 years or so, with the movement towards housing first models, right? The idea is to house folks and then we can work on all those other supports that they might need to thrive, right? But the reality of implementing those interventions, like tenant-based rental assistance are still that your other partners like landlords require these things and they're the ones who control the supply of affordable rental housing. Affordable rental housing, right? And so I lost track of that second question but please feel free to, to ask it again, pepper.

Pepper Roussel: No worries. But you derailed me. You said affordable rental housing, cuz math is just still not mapping on this affordability situation. But yeah, there's that. Anyhow. So since we are talking about a population of folks who simply do not have the critical skills and I don't know the last time you talked to a teenager, but believe me when I say to you, they do not have the critical skills to manipul, to maneuver through these really complex agencies and systems and pathways. I know adults who can't do it. What are we doing? Is really the question. What are we doing? Are we actually helping these folks? Like why are we still in a situation where we've got people who are children and unhoused? It's stressing me out. But my question is Can we, do we have any sort of a process that does give them the assistance or the guidance to get to where it is to they need to be without removing them from their parents?

Carrie Patterson: Pull a page from Dakota and give a policy angle, and then I'd love to punt it to Dakota and Jeffrey because they're much more familiar with actually how you serve folks. Case management is the answer and making case management available and attractive. Is incredibly important. If you've got barriers to participating in your project, barriers that the project has designed to put in between the folks who need the help and those essential case management navigation services, then you're gonna have fewer folks participating and more youth are going to go, nah, I don't wanna work with those people. And so the system is complex. We do have a coordinated entry system in the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of Care. Andrew, if you'd mind sharing our housing and services page, and then the street Outreach portal link. There's a system that exists and we have youth service providers that exist in Baton Rouge. And if you follow that outreach portal link that Andrew's gonna get in the chat in a few moments, you can submit information to the C O C that goes directly to youth serving Street outreach teams to connect with those youth experiencing homelessness where they're at, and work with them to get 'em to try and say yes to additional list. And so I'm happy to talk about that structure more, but I'm very eager to hear from our colleagues who work directly with youth.

Pepper Roussel: How do we help these children without removing them from their parents? How do we get them housed without making them homeless or, and more at risk in the first place?

Jeffrey Jones: I think going to them rather than requiring them to come to us, I believe it's necessary for the street outreach teams that are in Baton Rouge to be ever present in the locations where these youth and these homeless people are. I know that through consistency where it's more than just showing up one time and then never seeing somebody again. But showing up consistency with the same motive has always opened up future opportunities to have conversation. Then I've I've noticed personally, like there's this one family that I'm thinking about where. The guy needed some dietary needs for his son who was in middle school. He was single father and a disabled veteran. And the resources that we had was to pair him with other food pantries that were in Baton Rouge. And I sent him a bunch of food pantry resources and his response to me was that he wasn't gonna eat that dog food, and I just like, that really challenged me, in my approach because I realized that even though we think that these are great resources for them, they necessarily don't see it like that. And we're sending them to the food pantry, but his son had very specific dietary needs that the food pantry could not meet. And so I just dipped into my personal circle to have somebody go out and buy all the things that they needed. But I think it's just being creative. I think that you need to think outside the box and know that there's not one size fits all to this thing, I think that you just gotta get creative with it. So that's my thoughts on that.

Tekoah Boatner: So just to, to piggyback on, Jeffrey absolutely is, and Carrie, we're case management, wraparound services and flexibility is key to providing services. The majority of our services are low barrier and designed to be done at home in the chat. They've couple people mentioned family unification. We've started family unification and family engagement. So we've started to have to put that as a component of every single one of our programs because how do you help is Yeah, you have to help the family. The isolation strategies and removing kids from the home does not work because what happens is you get kids or in the area where they're learning all these things, trying to apply all these things, but they have no practice actually applying them in the environment where they are actually needing to use these skills. And the people that they have to use these skills with are not trained on that as well. They have no different skills. They're using the same skills that they had before. And so we are, all of our strategies are isolate and then put 'em back in the same situation. And that's not what's gonna help in terms of where public sentiment. Should be, yes, join all the coalitions, do all the work. And I would like to come back to say, y'all are doing the work. Nobody's given the data. That's something else. So beyond that though we're talking about the personal policies and our ability to engage the families to get the work done. What we've seen is that as long as we continue to deny that we need a both and type of situation, we need to work with the families and we need to work with the youth because the youth did not develop in isolation, even though we're trying to redevelop them in isolation. And what are we actually trying to redevelop them with again?

Neither here. That's a whole nother drum beat. So yeah, I hope that answers your question

Pepper Roussel: well, so yeah, I'm all about both and, but this is making me think that the issues with the children are just a symptom of a problem with the adults and the families. But as I sit here and I hear that the we wanna have case managers to go in and help and to guide and to nurture and to support families, I was not intending to say, this was not intending to think this, but gonna say it because I'm thinking it now. It feels very much like white supremacist power structure where we have folks who think that they know how to raise other people's children, who may not have children of their own, who parachute into families and start talking about what you should and should not be doing when those children are put at greater risk, whether it is that they are in school and they end up on the prison pipeline, or they are in homes and removed from those homes, no matter how it is that you feel about what their parents do for a living, if they are putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads, I am not entirely sure that this is not exactly what Alfred to tell Investor said in the chat that this is about generational poverty. So am I wrong in thinking that this is a symptom that does need to be addressed? Or am I wrong in thinking that we need to be looking at a more comprehensive solution where all of these pieces and parts work together?

Carrie Patterson: I, frankly speaking, I just don't think you're wrong on, on either of those counts, Pepper. We know the nature of institutions, right? And we know that they are inclined to support the status quo. One of the ways that, one of the ways that we can affect that and help shift those policies are by engaging in your local governance structures. And I'm not talking about your Metro council, but please by all means, state legislature, find all the names of the people you wanna talk to. But for homelessness specifically the Louisiana Estate Continuum of Care has a governance structure that's based off of anybody being able to join the c O c. And as long as you engage in certain ways in terms of good standing, you've gotta vote. And so I encourage everybody who's interested, think about coming to the Baton Rouge Regional meeting later this month. It'll be held in person. And then also you can attend virtually. But we are structured in such a way that folks have the opportunity to really impact policy decisions in terms of how your local homeless coalition chooses to serve people. Toner is the chairperson of our youth working group. They've got a meeting later this month as well. Policies are made in our committees and resources are shared in our regional membership. And both of those entities have a path towards putting policies that they wanna promote in front of the balance, the state board of directors. And that's really powerful. And up until this point, we haven't had much really broad community engagement in those those simple but really powerful decision making structures. And so that is a path. It doesn't negate the basic premise that you've come. This is the resource landscape that we're currently in. How can we use it to help dismantle some of those more harmful institutional status quos to better direct those resources to preserving folks wholeness, families, wholeness and helping remove those barriers to the resources that do exist while we're working on trying to craft a different type of system Now is unmuting and may tell me that I am optimistic but I will You are optimistic and I love it because you provide some very good y my yang there. I'm also optimistic though in the sense that I believe that people are interested. They just don't know how. I've found in a lot of the work that we've done, especially in the past two years, it just simply took a lot of conversations and convincing the people with the dollars to say, oh, okay, maybe what they're doing is working.

Tekoah Boatner: Let's give them a shot. And so we, you have to do that. But what I'd like The populist to do is to demand a better environment for their nonprofits to work in. And I don't mean the environment of nonprofit organizations internally. What I mean is if we are charged or continually going to be charged with supporting cracks to the capitalist structure, then we as a populist need to demand that the capital capitalist structure changes so that it makes the need for the service obsolete. We haven't done that part. We are going to, we house these youth doing fair market rent for 18 to 24 months, and I guarantee you by the time they finish the fair market rent that we've been paying or they've learned how to pay since then, has far outpaced their earning potential in that time. So they still need the services. And the response is the nonprofit didn't work. The funding doesn't work. Let's pull the dollars. No. Funding worked well, society's not working. Share this thought with you real quick. I didn't have policies to help me get out of the situation that I found myself in. I had to find out how to get out of it without the policies present. And I've noticed just unintentionally through my lived experience that I usually can be found where the policies aren't.

Jeffrey Jones: And it's because the policies are just barriers. I feel like if I constantly have to go through the fine print of every single situation that I find myself in, I lose valuable opportunity to meet the need when it happens. And it just for me personally, I feel like being on the streets, I. Yields opportunities that maybe you miss if you spend time trying to create and adjust policy. That's just my personal lived experience. Does anybody agree with that or am I off the mark there?

Pepper Roussel: I just have a really quick question to when you talk, when you're saying in policy, are you talking about agency policy policies within the, like the processes of working within the nonprofit or policies at a state and federal level?

Jeffrey Jones: I'm not super familiar with the state and a federal level, I would just tell you from an organizational and a agency standpoint it's been really difficult to meet some of the needs because there's all this fine print that I have to adhere to and I feel like I, I just lose valuable time and opportunities to meet needs that are presently happening because I have to go and jump through these hoops to make sure that I'm doing a, b, c in the right way. That's, I don't know, that's just my experience with that. Jeffrey, you're absolutely right. You have to be where the people are to learn how to do it. And so I'm gonna ask Carrie, who is our funder, to close her ears because I frequently tell myself to break the shit excuse the language, but my job is to fix it.

Tekoah Boatner: My job is to keep an eye on the compliance. My job is to make sure that you can do what you do. Your job is to. Work with the youth and if something that our structures or policies are putting in place prevents you from doing it, you need to come back to me so we can figure out how to work within the box that we've been given. And that takes a little bit more work than just looking at the grant and going, okay, we gotta do A, B, C, D, and D. The grant is there to fund your work. You are there to do the work that you've continued to do, and you have to marry both those concepts so that one doesn't conflict with the other. And this is going to require that you do some things that are not normally done. A lot of my staff work remote. Oh my God, people are losing it. But guess what? When I have a youth at 10 o'clock that needs some help, they're gonna be able to do that because they haven't been sitting in the office from eight to four typing on computers and not out there with the people. You have to be able to get creative. I tell people all the time, what we do is less important than why we do it. A lot of the things that we do come from, Hey, I need X, Y, and z. And myself. Can we do X, Y, z? I don't know. Is it in the, is it against the regs? No. Okay, let's figure it out and we gonna make it work. And until we get more agencies willing to actually do that and not be afraid to lose the dollars, because that's the other thing, I'm afraid of losing this funding and I get that funding follows impact and what I mentioned earlier we're all doing the work, but we are just not doing the data. All of you work with youth in some capacity and if you have someone, they're willing to just take a little bit of time and have a conversation and find out what's going on with a youth, you'll find that you're probably serving the same people that everybody else is serving. And now where can you impact from where you sit? But you have to first incorporate that if I was on the call the other day and it was talking about trauma informed, and you can be a trauma informed cashier. But that has to, somebody has to train you to do that, right? You it, none of these things need to be gated behind institutions. We all can do it. If someone takes the opportunity to give you the tools and then your responsibility then is to take those tools and give 'em to more people. And then we just have tools going around Robin, that's what it's supposed to be. Creating that healthy society and not creating a society where everybody is protecting their own because gates keep people out and also keep people in.

Carrie Patterson: I have nothing else to say.

Pepper Roussel: Yeah, I echo and we're sitting over here all in my church chat thinking, come on now, system. Say it louder for the people in the back. And I really enjoy these conversations. Where we do get a chance to talk about the things that we don't ordinarily get to hear, right? That there are these disconnects that we can get in where we fit in, that if we do get in where we fit in, then we can actually create the links between those disconnects that don't exist now, then we can have some sort of comprehension, but around where our children are. Because this is yes the conversation is homelessness, but specifically child homelessness. And that is, it should be distressing for many more people than apparently than it is. But I do wanna circle back to these categories, cuz I had a really hard time finding the data, right? So it doesn't exist like where we have these very broad strokes. We've got an idea of how many hundreds of thousands of people are not sleeping inside on a regular basis. Meanwhile, we have initiatives make sure that people can't really sleep at fear outside either different conversation. And so trying to understand if we're talking about children who, what are the categories are L G B T Q I A immigrant children who may be separated from their parents children of the insecure homes where and what can y'all do so that we know who to send to you. Do you handle each of those? Do you not? Carrie is my resident, go here to get funding person. And so very valuable, but what specifically should we look to your organizations to do and how can we work with you to make it better?

Carrie Patterson: So broadly the balance estate continuum of care serves all of those subpopulations. The ably housed. Oftentimes though, do fall into category two and category three, the resources are really slim for category two. And then for category three. You're not getting that funding through the c o c program in terms of that piece. But we know that l g LGBTQ youth are very overrepresented and compared to the general population of youth experiencing homelessness and it's one of those subcategories of unhoused youth that not a poverty driver, strictly speaking the cause of their homelessness is not due to the macroeconomic factors that are at play for so much of the folks who do experience homelessness, right? But I know that are specifically our immigrant community. Our folks who are undocumented are underserved by our homelessness institutions to begin with. And then youth. Who are undocumented are also exceedingly underserved in terms of our homelessness community. So there's more partnerships to be made and there's certainly certainly real growth that we need to be focused on in terms of ensuring that we do have equitable access to the present, yet flawed resources that, that are here now. And so yes, we can serve everybody. We need to do more work in terms of how we make access to those services available and some really real ways.

Tekoah Boatner: We serve Youth, I to just say youth broadly. But so we have our services are gonna fall in one of three categories. It's gonna be prevention response or stabilization. And so under prevention, we have diversion. And our diversion program started at the age of 11. That was my popular request. We only, we tried to start hiring all the teachers said, Nope, you need to go lower. What happens in diversion is if a youth is at risk if they've been arrested but not yet charged, then we come in, we go into the home, we provide stabilizing services and life skills, and again, intensive wraparound services. And the idea is to keep the youth from going into prison further. That program is full at this point. So I'm trying to actually have to write another one. And also we are looking to expand that to Youth that are not in, not justice involved. So we would like to actually provide that to youth at risk of being removed from school and youth that being risk get removed from home. Just fyi. So all the funders on the call, if there are any. We also provide our drop-in center, which is our low barrier service starting June 1st, we gonna open our hours for afternoon and evening. And what happens at the dropping center is absolutely whatever the youth wants, they can come in, if they want services, they can get that, but if they don't want services, they can just chill, suck up some air conditioning and wifi, which is mostly what they do. And eat up all the snacks and that's fine. The idea though is daily they come and eventually they start talking to us, and then eventually we get them into services. And that's what we do. We have our emergency shelter 18 to 24. We also have our transitional living program, 16 to 21, and starting the summer we're gonna be all Opening our transitional living L G B LGBTQ Palmer House. And that is gonna serve six youth, six LGBTQ youth that do not have to be system involved. So we what else do we do? I know I'm missing Oh, rapid rehousing and transitional housing and cares like if you don't. Yes. Transitional housing and rapid rehousing. And thankfully we'll be expanding some of our units. We're also gonna be expanding to Ascension West, Baton Rouge Ascension St. James, St. John. We'll be expanding to those areas come the fall. If you need us, call us or email us. That's the best way to get in touch with us and for a youth We'll get you where you need to go.

Pepper Roussel: And just as a bit of a recap, you did say that this, the youth, like this term youth starts around the 11.

Tekoah Boatner: Correct? Yes, it does start around 11. Now for any of our onsite services, our drop-in services they can be 11, they can come if they wanna, we do offer STI I testing, but they need to be 13. And yeah, that's it.

Jeffrey Jones: And Power 2 25 has a couple satellite offices. So we have one that's off of government Street. And it's where the anchor house is which is our transitional living program. And then we have a drop-in center that's off of wind burn. Where youth can come in, they can wash their clothes. We have a clothed in boutique if they need to get some new clothes shower get the support and the services that they need. And that's open Monday through Friday.

Pepper Roussel: So we've got some chatter in the chat, which makes me happy. Otherwise because I am wildly depressed all of a sudden hearing that we're starting an 11, 11 years old, I don't know if y'all remember being 11 or the last time you talked to an 11 year old, but most of them in fact, you know what, I will go so far as saying all of them deserve to be able to sleep inside. I'm just saying that cause I believe it. I'm just gonna keep saying it to a lot of people believe it too. All right. Jeffrey. If you could put the information from Power 2 25 in the chat, I would appreciate it. If y'all haven't dropped your contact information on the chat please do yes, I am all about SK and their fixation on nonprofits demanding a better environment to work in because our neighbors and the people that we do serve deserve better environments and better support. And Marella, I am really sorry to say that. See that there is, there are no statistics about immigrant youth. Mike. I do wonder though Is there a differentiation or is there a distinction between undocumented, documented and those who are seeking as silent because those are not legal legally the same necessarily people. So when we talk about those kids who are forced to represent themselves in immigration court when we talk about those folks

who are suffering and targeted by ICE raids, how are their children, how are, I don't even, they're kids anyway. How are these children being served by programs that are available to them?

Marcella Hernandez: And that's the reason why I was asking about that, because I know our family dynamics as immigrants, it, it changes drastically from like the main culture. So that's why I as I hear this conversation, I was wondering if maybe there was a shelter or an initiative, Jill Soli, that was working with immigrant children that are experiencing homeless. That was basically the question. I know that we internally as communities, we usually support each other out and help each other out, and there's a biggest stigma associated with that. But I'm just wondering that's, that was the question That was if there's anything already taking place in the city or if any s or if they're doing something specifically for immigrant children.

Tekoah Boatner: Unfortunately that's not something that we have done yet, and we realized that it was because we had no materials that were in other languages. So we actually started in the past month producing our Newsletter and our drop-in flyers and stuff in Spanish, and we're gonna try to find something for two other languages because somebody else asked us and it was like we don't know. And it's you know what, if they don't speak the language, then maybe they don't know that we can still serve them too, because that's not a requirement for our services. So we're gonna try to work on that. Now, just anecdotally people I work with, Texas and New Mexico have really big, large shelters, which obviously makes sense there. But. Nothing here yet that I'm aware of.

Pepper Roussel: So there's a que there's a comment in the chat about maybe Catholic Charities has, and this will be the last question we're before move into announcements, but are, unless of course we're start ramping back up. But do these, are there any programs like say a Catholic Charities that would have a religious requirement? Are there providers who are requiring that you do something or you believe something in order to get services?

Marcella Hernandez: I know replying to that question, my understanding is that Catholic Charities don't do that kind of stuff either for immigrants, specifically for immigrants. I know that The Catholic Center have a shelter for pregnant women that are experiencing homelessness and women who have children that are girls, not boys. So I know that Catholic Center do that here in Baton Rouge, but it has those specific requirements.

Pepper Roussel: Casey, I'm gonna hand it off to you to close this out. As I sit here and chuckle in, this is the bull.

Casey Phillips: Yeah. And no, I said it, it is. And and the whole thing is with all these Friday calls some of them hit you different, right? They hit all of us different. And this is one of those that kind of universally just slaps you with a sledgehammer across the jaw. And immediately I, my, my heart and my head turns to yeah. That's how the people who are doing this work every single day feel and they can put their li love light on and move forward. So can we, right? And this is why it's so important for these Friday calls to lead to collective action together in the coalition work. So this particular topic wouldn't necessarily be something that you would normally expect to have in a conversation around education or in workforce development, but you better believe it's gonna be part of the continuum of the education to career coalition. That starts from early childhood, as we've heard early childhood. All zero through four, but K through 12 in the 11 year old space. Of course this is part of that continuum, all the way to getting these these humans, the resources they need to live the life of their hopes and their dreams. Right? If we're not living for people's hopes and dreams, what are we living for? And so I appreciate our speakers today for shining a bright light on an issue that continues to stay silent in our community. Thank you for the work that you do. And now let's get down to work. May 16th folks at the Goodwood Library. We're gonna pack out that, that big conference room in, in fact, we're gonna pack it out so hard that we're gonna take the small conference room too to set up the hospitality suite so we can maximize that space. So everybody show up, show show up and show out. You can get there as early as one o'clock if you want to meet up with everybody, but the meeting will start at two o'clock. Some of our folks that are on here today will also be speaking at the at the first convening. And I hope that you all can join us at the Goodwood Library. So Pepper, I'll turn it back over to you and our awesome community members for unknown.

Pepper Roussel: Yes, please. And don't forget, we also have a cafe meeting on May 17th. So come once, come twice. Come three times Sunday meeting. Oh wait, actually that's not where I was going with that. Community announcements, folks. What's going on this weekend?

Tekoah Boatner: We don't have anything going on this weekend, but I would like to announce that I am an ace trainer. So if anyone is needing sorry, adverse childhood experiences, I get into acronym speak need any training, I'm available to do that. If you want CE use, I need at least eight weeks lead time. So we go.

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