Cocoon House-Dealing with Homeless Teens

Joe Alonzo-CEO of Cocoon House
 
Joe Alonzo was our speaker.  He has been with Cocoon house for 5 1/2 years and became CEO a year ago.   Cocoon house has been around for 28 years and works with youth ages 12-24. 
 
November is national homeless youth month.  There are so many young people in our communities that are experiencing homelessness. In Snohomish County there are 3700 youth receiving services for homelessness.  Youth that are homeless tend to want to blend in.  They are afraid of being seen as homeless and want to be seen as normal. 
Primary causes of homelessness are lacking of affordable housing.  The cost of affording stable housing is quickly outgrowing people’s loving wages.  Loss of jobs for the primary wage earner in the family.  Illnesses and accidents among family members and then the teenagers are pushed out to fend for themselves.  Natural Disasters and events that displace youth.  Stressors and family conflict are another reason for homelessness among youth. 
 
In family composition divorce seems to be a leading cause in youth leaving home.  Domestic Violence is another reason for family discord.  Youth with undiagnosed physical or mental disabilities become an issue with youth can’t keep up in school and in the home.  Chemical dependency among youth and their families leads to homelessness.  Gender identity and sexual preference pushes youth out of the home.  There is a large percentage of young people that their homelessness is a symptom of a larger problem in our society. 
 
Youth that identify as LBGTQ are a large majority of homeless youth. Youth of color are disproportionately a majority of homeless youth.  Youth transitioning from foster care and coming out of juvenile detention tend to become homeless.  Youth that have mental health challenges and suffer from addiction also become homeless
 
Outreach, Housing and prevention are the three categories that the Cocoon House works in .  It runs a 7 day a week drop in center in Everett, and has a street outreach team that works with schools.  Other services includes housing navigation help and shelter and placement for youth.  Staff work with youth in getting a job, job skills and resume writing.  Music recording studio and residential programs are also available. 
 
Housing- Emergency shelter in Everett, east shelter in Monroe.  8 bed shelter.  Long term housing at the main office in Everett and Cocoon House North here in Arlington for pregnant mothers or mothers with new babies. 
 
Prevention- trying to deal with the things that make youth homeless in the first place.  It has a call in line for parents that are at their wits end with their youth.  In addition it offers workshops for parents to understand what is happening with youth and for youth to understand parents, as well as parenting classes. 
 
March of 2019 Cocoon house will be opening the Colby Ave Youth Center.  They will have medical facilities, housing and other services.
 
There are many ways to help including volunteering, being on the board of directors, adopting youth during the holidays and helping feed youth.  Donating money to help keep programs running and finding ways to help let people speak at events. 

 
 
 
 
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