System reform iconSystem Reform

Jamie Thoburn

a way home

Youth experiencing homelessness often become discouraged in their search for solutions. After a month or two in severely uncomfortable and unsafe living situations, they often give up on finding help. When nothing changes, talking to case managers feels pointless. Their names sit on endless wait-lists,which can make them feel like no more than a number. The uncertainty homeless communities face causes people to lose patience in thewait for change. However, I’ve recently begun participating in a potential solution: The 100-Day Challenge.

The 100-Day Challenge is an ambitious approach to rehousing and stabilizing homeless youth and young adults. During the challenge, A Way Home Washington, The Mockingbird Society, and multiple partner organizations in Spokane, Pierce, and King counties redouble their efforts in assessing and meeting homeless youth’s needs. With support from the Rapid Results Institute, communities accepted into the program meet their youth’s needs with a new sense of urgency brought on by the short timeframe. This is an opportunity for local community organizations and philanthropists to pool their resources to create a quantifiable change. By significantly reducing the number of homeless people in our communities, we can make homelessness a more manageable issue.

In 2016, the 100-Day Challenge took place in three cities: Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. Of the 1,427 homeless youth who were given needs assessments, these cities housed 428 in 100 days! What a victory for these communities! But simply finding housing for youth is often not enough. For some youth, transitional housing helps to develop the skills necessary for independent living. Others simply need rapid rehousing: a stepping stone back to a self-supporting lifestyle. Still others require what is known as permanent supportive housing. Rather than postpone more difficult cases, these cities sought to work through issues quickly and creatively to house as many youth and young adults as possible.

My own experience searching for housing in Tacoma introduced me to many organizations that house homeless youth. The deeper I researched, the more I learned how these different groups work together. When I began coming to the REACH Center, I was introduced to Housing 4 Success. They have a youth-centered shared housing program as well as a youth Independent Living program. These organizations collaborated for my benefit and regularly do great work for my peers around me. I’m truly grateful for what these social workers do every day. With increased resources and outside support, I can only imagine what they can accomplish in 100 days!

The Washington 100-Day Challenge Launch took place on April 18th and 19th. Held on the top floor of the Pacific Tower in Seattle, the extensive brainstorm session combined the ideas and experience of diverse specialists from Spokane, Pierce, and King counties. Each regional team formed its goals for the 100 days, forming multiple breakout groups focused on specialized tasks. Washington’s goals include finding housing for over 700 youth and young adults. Each region has more specific goals pertaining to the demographics of these participants, including a focus on racial minorities, LGBTQ, and youth under the age of 18. Through consistent communication and collaboration, each region will work together to keep each other updated, motivated, and inspired for these challenging 100 days!

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.