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Nonprofits merge to help 80% of homeless youth in Kent County which are people of color

Posted at 5:01 AM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 05:04:30-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two nonprofits in Grand Rapids are merging with the shared purpose of supporting children and young adults experiencing homelessness.

3:11 Youth Housing and the HQ Runaway & Homeless Youth Drop-in Center planned this merger well before the pandemic.

The new organization supports 14- to 24-year-olds by finding them a place to stay and connecting them with resources to help them build a more stable future.

The pandemic has highlighted the disparities facing youth experiencing homelessness, with disproportionate impacts in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.

The stark racial inequities are made very clear in housing and homelessness in Kent County.

“It is even more important now than ever before to support this kind of work," said Shandra Steininger, co-founder of HQ. "With everything that’s going on in our world, this merger is even more critical in the impact that it can have in improving this community, and, really, the lives of every single person who lives here."

Approximately 80 percent of youth accessing drop-in at HQ and housing at 3:11 are people of color, yet they make up 41 percent of the population.

"With this newly merged organization, youths will first be able to connect with relationships," said Lauren VanKeulen, MSW, co-executive director of 3:11 youth housing. "Both organizations have been founded on the belief that relationships are integral to helping and walking alongside young people as they move toward stability."

For more information, visit HQ's website or the website for 311.