East Bay community groups launch initiative to support homeless youth

Community groups delivered what they call "bags of comfort" to hundreds of homeless young people on Tuesday. 

Many of them are in the foster care system and have landed in shelters or the streets.

"You will get covers. Socks. Maybe notebooks and journals," says Cory Elliott of the nonprofit The Black Neighborhood.

The donations were sponsored by the Precious Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that supports programs for homeless youth. 

"We are here to make sure we supply that extra support especially their mental health during this time when issues have compounded for them," said Michelle Musgrove, who's with the organization. 

"Some of them are coming from abusive situations, abusive homes. Some are being pushed out of their homes because of finances. They turn 18 and many parents say, 'You are 18, go out into the world now.' But that's really hard," said Brian Bob of Covenant House, a youth shelter in Oakland.

Many end up in homeless encampments or sleeping in cars. About 700 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are homeless in Alameda county. But those numbers date back to 2019 and most outreach workers believe the number is higher. About a third have aged out of foster care and ended up on the streets.

It's a problem made worse by the pandemic, says Julia Lakes of Beyond Emancipation, an organization that works with young adults transitioning out of foster care.

"They're being moved around a lot more because of concerns around folks not wanting to take someone in because of covid. Just struggling to find more reliable housing" she said. 

The problem could get worse. Housing subsidies put in place due to COVID are set to end in December for those who are aging out of the foster care system.

"We talk about teaching young people to dream again. They've kind of lost the ability to dream about what they want," Lakes said.