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Salt Lake County receives $2.7 million grant for homeless youth

Posted at 10:05 PM, Sep 26, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — As someone who experienced homelessness at the age of 18, Cameron Thompson says youth homelessness is an issue that’s not always seen.

“A lot of the times they're sleeping in their cars or sleeping on a friend's couch, so you will not see a lot of them," said Thompson, the vice president of Salt Lake County's Youth Action Board. “This is where homelessness begins. If you can't stop it at the roots, it's too late.”

Salt Lake County’s Youth Action Board recently received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.

“The vouchers that we will be getting from this grant may be the very definition of if they are homeless or if they are homed," said Thompson.

The first thing the Youth Action Board will do is conduct a needs assessment to determine where the grant money is most needed right now.

“Our youth are very vulnerable, and it's something that we don't really talk about," said Yixiao Burke, president of the Youth Action Board. "We don't hear stories, so we are here to create that youth voice for the ones that who don't have a voice for themselves.”

The specific issues the Youth Action Board will be addressing include housing and resources for teen mothers and recruiting more lived experts to help out.

“It was probably the worst thing that's ever happened to me, to be in a shelter and on my car on the streets," said Maygan Martinez, a past president of the Youth Action Board. "You as a youth don't really know what to do. You don't know where to go. If you don't have work experience, it's not like you can go get a job and start making money.”