Panel discussion to help homeless teens in Collin County

(Frisco – November 12, 2012) No one imagines a child they know might be someday be living on the streets, especially from affluent areas where opportunity seems endless, good schools are touted and the business community is prosperous. It’s a hidden problem where light needs to be shed to help these children.  General society ignores the problem, but others in Collin County want to open the public’s eyes.

Teen Homelessness is a growing problem in Frisco and teens need the community’s help to do something about it. The Collin County Homeless Coalition and City House are sponsoring See Me Now: Teens Without Homes, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, November 16 at Preston Trail Community Church.

See Me Now: Teens Without Homes is an event partnered by public and private agencies including faith-based institutions.  An initiative was formed last year after a young teen walked into Frisco City Hall looking for a place to sleep for him and his pregnant girlfriend. At the time, the couple was sleeping in a field behind a local business when the temperatures averaged 105 degrees.

“I would like to encourage the community to support the See Me Now event and meet with participating providers to see how they can help,” said Christine Ortega, Outreach Director for Preston Trail Community Church and member of the Frisco Youth Initiative.

Based on statistics provided by the Frisco Independent School District during the 2011-12 school year, there were 187 homeless students in K-12; with 56 of those students in our high schools.  Most of the 187 students are living with other families, friends, storage units or in a car, and there has been evidence of teens living outside along Stewart Creek.

City House in Plano assists area youth in their My Friends Place facility, for children up to 16 years old.  City House’s TRIPS program provides housing and counseling for 17-21 years old, but Frisco students do not have transportation to get to these facilities.

The Collin County Homeless Coalition organizes trained teams – usually PTA parents and faith groups – to head out into the night hiking in some areas, providing assistance to those youth experiencing homelessness, and to provide statistics to the county:

  • 2012 experienced a 44% increase in homelessness for Collin County.
  • Of the 44% increase, 40% were children
  • More than 70% were single mothers with children
  • Only 35% of the homeless were unemployed, 45% were employed
  • More than half had attended some college or had a college degree
  • The largest % of adults were Caucasian, and the largest percent of homeless children are African American
  • There were 1236 students in Collin County, Frisco ISD, Plano ISD, Allen ISD, and McKinney ISD as homeless on the night of the count, and is a 4% increase from 2011.

Public Opinion might consider homeless teens as runaways or the ‘bad kids’.  In some situations, living on the streets has been an improvement from life at home where abuse has occurred and some of these kids are living in cars as they attend classes at Collin County Community College while working at a fast food joint.

See Me Now:  Teens without Homes Panel

Stacy Brown
Housing and Grants Administrator
Mia Bennett
Director of Support Programs, FISD
Jennifer Patten
Program Director, City House
Christopher Green
Minister, Highland Oaks Church of Plano
Honorable Cynthia McCrann Wheless

Chairman, Collin County Juvenile Board

The presenters and the panel will discuss the needs of our community, and explore how to break the cycle and provide these teens with shelter and services that not only move them out of crisis but also create a new model for their future.

Submitted by Lynn Bergman, Frisco PR Girl.

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