Sleep Out to Fight Youth Homelessness

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People from all walks of life plan to unite to wake up Chicago about the epidemic of youth homelessness by sleeping out in the open along Lake Michigan on November 20.

The first annual OUT IN THE OPEN SLEEP OUT is an all-night charity event to raise awareness and funds for 19+ nonprofit organizations servicing youth experiencing homelessness in Chicago. The event is also a time to recognize and celebrate the survival of real teens who have pushed through their circumstances to live successful lives.

The event comes at a time when agencies servicing youth are being severely impacted by budget cuts in Illinois. Most nonprofits are fighting hard against such financial cuts. Still, agencies are being forced to pull back on services and cut staffing. In turn, more youth are unfortunately being denied services they desperately need.

Photo credit Tony Webster
Photo credit Tony Webster

Mid-November was purposely chosen as the time of the year to hold the event. It’s when Chicago’s temperature begins to turn bitter cold. At the same time, more than 22,000 youth are without permanent homes and are often turned away from shelters to sleep out in the cold.

“We are striving to bring new people and resources to this critical issue in Chicago,” said Tracy Baim, Windy City Times publisher and executive producer of the event. “We’ve modeled the event after similar events in other cities, and we plan to also showcase the talents of this next generation.”

Attendees will hear teens speak about their experiences. Dozens of entertainers will perform during the event which concludes at 8:00 a.m. the following morning. Various activities will take place throughout the night.

The OUT IN THE OPEN SLEEP OUT is sponsored by Pride Action Tank, Aids Foundation, Edelman, Agency EA, and Windy City Times.

If you live in the Chicago area, be sure to sign up for the event at http://www.sleepoutchicago.org. Online donations are encouraged as well.

ProudYouth will be streaming live from Out in the Open on November 20. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a reminder.

THE FACTS:


– Chicago Public Schools (CPS) identified a record 22,144 students experiencing homelessness or housing instability in 2013-14

– 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ, according to numerous national surveys

– 78% of LGBTQ youth in the Department of Children & Family Services system are likely to experience homelessness at some point

– 23.4 months: average time spent fighting homelessness by teens according to a national survey

15: average age that teens first experienced homelessness, according to the same survey

Only 374 youth shelter beds exist for unaccompanied youth in Chicago.


SleepoutChicagoThe following non-profit partners will benefit from the event: AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Care2Prevent, U of Chicago; Center on Halsted; Chicago House; Chicago Youth Storage Initiative; HBHC’s Broadway Youth Center; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance; La Casa Norte; Lurie Children’s Hospital – Division of Adolescent Medicine; Neon Dorms – Heartland Human Care Services; New Moms; Puerto Rican Cultural Center – El Rescate; Task Force Prevention and Community Services on the Westside; Teen Living Programs; The 750 Club Apartment Adoption Project; The Night Ministry; Thresholds; Unity Parenting and Counseling, Inc.; and YEPP: Youth Empowerment Performance Project.

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