News: Hennepin County begins 100-day challenge to combat youth homelessness

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Media contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

Media contact: Casey Schleisman, Office to End Homelessness, 612-756-2277

Hennepin County begins 100-day challenge to combat youth homelessness

Hennepin County has joined numerous community partners and four other U.S. communities in a 100-day challenge to combat youth homelessness.

The challenge goals are to help 150 youth between the ages of 16 - 24 exit homelessness into safe and stable housing, and that 75 percent of this group will secure employment, which could include jobs, job training and credentialing and paid internships..

The challenge is a community-wide effort engaging homeless youth service providers, employment providers, businesses, housing authorities and many others to work towards the goal of preventing and ending youth homelessness.  

Hennepin County joins Baltimore, Maryland; Columbus, Ohio; Palm Beach County, Florida; and Louisville, Kentucky, in this nationwide challenge.

Expanding on current successes

Steve Cramer of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, David Hewitt of Hennepin County’s Office to End Homelessness and Beth Holger-Ambrose of The Link will provide leadership to a team that draws from a range of homeless and employment-focused non-profits and government agencies.

“Hennepin County was among five communities chosen for this challenge, given our unique approach to thinking more creatively about housing for youth, along with how to support them to have livable wage employment opportunities,” said David Hewitt, director of Hennepin County’s Office to End Homelessness.

Today's press conference was held at the YouthLink Youth Opportunity Center, a site where a collaboration of agencies provide services in one location to more than 2,000 youth each year.

"Bold challenges and collaborations like this aren't new to Hennepin County or the City of Minneapolis," Dr. Heather Huseby, executive director of YouthLink, said. "Seven years ago, the Youth Opportunity Center was kicked off, which was a collaborative of more than 30 partners onsite here - and that was a bold move."

During the next 100 days, the challenge team will think creatively to implement a variety of solutions to prevent and end homelessness.

"All members of our community deserve safe, decent, affordable housing. Hennepin County has a reputation as a community for coming together, in different and creative ways, to tackle difficult and important issues, so we’re proud to be part of this," Marion Greene, Hennepin County Commissioner, said. 

Combining housing and employment resources

Holger-Ambrose is hopeful that the 100-day challenge team will not only meet, but surpass, the challenge goals, due to the combination of housing and employment supports.

"What youth experiencing homelessness continue to tell me over the years is that what they want in their lives is stable housing, real career opportunities and adults and people in their lives who truly care about them and support them," she said.

The business community will be key in connecting youth with employment opportunities throughout the challenge period.

"Not only is there a moral case, a moral imperative, there is a very strong economic case to be made that we can't leave these young people behind in a community that needs every hand on deck to keep our economy going strong," Cramer said.

The following organizations and businesses have participated in the design of the 100-day challenge and will work to implement plans over the course of the next 100 days: Avenues for Homeless Youth, Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis – Hope Street for Homeless Youth, City of Minneapolis Workforce, Department of Human Services – Office of Economic Opportunity, Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness, Minneapolis Downtown Council, Goodwill Easter Seals, Hennepin County, HIRED, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis Public School District, MoveFwd, Oasis for Youth, Suburban Hennepin Workforce, Tree Trust, The Bridge for Youth, The Link, United Way, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, and YouthLink.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with private philanthropic partners, are funding the challenge. A Way Home AmericaThe Rapid Results Institute and HomeBase are administering it.  

Get involved

For more information and stories about the challenge, follow the 100-day challenge on Twitter and Instagram

This work can only be accomplished by working with a wide array of partners. Those that are interested in assisting with this challenge can contact Casey Schleisman at or 612-756-2277.

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