The Youth Advocacy Team, a collaboration of funders and service providers working to build a system of care for homeless teens and young adults in Sarasota County, recently more than doubled the number of housing subsidies it offers. With funding from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and several donors through Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the group is now able to subsidize housing costs for 23 local youth who otherwise would be homeless. The subsidies available from the Youth Advocacy Team include rental assistance, which provide up to $600 per month to help youth over 18 move into their own apartment, and room-rental subsidies, which enable youth to rent a room within a safe and vetted home. Housing subsidy recipients also have access to utility-deposit coverage through the program. The Youth Advocacy Team tested the program last year with five of each subsidy, and the group recently expanded its support by adding eight more housing subsidies and five room-rental subsidies.
The housing subsidies are administered by the Sarasota Housing Authority, while the room-rental subsidies are overseen by the Safe Children Coalition. Other partners in the Youth Advocacy Team include nonprofit agencies Harvest House, More Too Life, and Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, government representatives from Sarasota County and child welfare, and philanthropic funders Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
In addition to youth housing subsidies, the Youth Advocacy Team has launched a Youth Action Board of formerly homeless youth who advocate on behalf of their peers, opened a drop-in center for unaccompanied youth to access services and support at Harvest House, and maintains dedicated Youth Outreach Advocates employed at Harvest House and Schoolhouse Link.