Larry Collins

Dozens Sleep on Bridge to Raise Youth Homelessness Awareness

Though often unintentional for some, the problem of youth homelessness is out of sight and out of mind.

"We absolutely don’t think about what’s not right in front of us and what we have not experienced," said Cobi Gray, who works at Promise House, a homeless shelter for youth and teens facing housing instability.

Thursday night into Friday morning, Promise House hosted the "Unsheltered Experience," which is a chance for community members to give up their beds for sleeping bags to experience a small glimpse into what a night being homeless is like.

"It’s an opportunity for community leaders and others in the community to come out and experience in a way the dangers and hardships that you face when they are unsheltered," Gray said. "[Homeless youth] are facing a number of dangers to their physical and emotional well-being as well as being victims of sex trafficking."

Around 60 people slept on and near the Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge.

"What people tell us is that they are shocked by what they experience how being outside and unsheltered actually impact them," Gray said. "It’s just for that one night that they participated, but also understanding that this is just a small facet of the dangers and experiences that those who don’t know where they are going to lay their head tomorrow night face."

"There are more than 3,500 youth in the Dallas Independent School District that are facing housing instability right now," Gray added.

Gray said this experience offers Promise House a chance to discuss the many layers of youth homelessness with people who may have never reminds youth homelessness affects youth.

"Many kicked out of their homes or they have run away and so, being unsheltered they don’t have the basic things a typical youth or teen might have [like] an ID, a social security card and that impacts their ability to enroll in school," Gray said.

The group hope the night inspires many to volunteer and make donations all year.

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