Helping homeless youth is the right thing to do. It’s also a smart investment.

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By Michelle Basham, Executive Director

I’ve dedicated most of my career to serving young people. I do it because I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to grow into a happy and productive adult. I believe in the inherent worth of the youth who are our clients, and in the importance of giving them a leg up. If you’re one of our supporters, I bet you believe in those things too.

You probably also have a limit on how much you donate each year, and want to be confident that your money will make a difference.

Serving homeless youth is not cheap.  Last year, the Bridge provided housing, crisis counseling, support groups and other services to over 15,000 youth and families translating to a cost of less than $230 dollars per client with strong outcomes including 73% of the youth served in our shelter exiting to safe and stable housing.

This is not just an investment in our youth today but an investment that saves countless dollars down the road in corrections, long-term welfare dependency and healthcare costs.  That’s why investing in homeless youth is one of the best uses of your charitable dollar.

In 2015, Foldes Consulting completed a report for YouthLink on the economic burdens of homeless youth.

Serving a homeless young person for a year by providing both basic needs (housing, medical care, chemical dependency treatment) and transformative services (education, counseling, job training) costs an estimated $12,824.

That’s a lot of money, but nothing compared to the lifetime costs if a young person continues to need public support.

The Foldes study found that over the course of their lives (ages 20-64), the average homeless or at-risk youth will directly cost taxpayers $248,182 in costs like the criminal justice system, welfare transfer payments, and other government assistance. They’ll cost society an additional $613,182 in costs of crimes to victims and their own lost earnings. That means an average homeless youth costs society an estimated $861,364 over the course of their life.

The study estimated a net present value (in 2011 dollars) of potential savings on each youth of $211,059.

Of course, not every young person will be able to fully overcome the many obstacles in their way. Luckily, they don’t need to for our work to be worthwhile, even in the strictly financial sense. If only 6.1% of the youth we serve become self-sufficient, the savings in decades to come will cover the cost of caring for all of the youth today.

By donating to The Bridge, you help young people get on the path to financial independence, so that homelessness can be just a small piece of their life-long story. It’s one of the best ways to improve lives and lower taxpayer burdens in the long run. Would you consider supporting us today?

Donate here.

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