Hand2Paw works with “opportunity youth,” between the ages of 18-24 living in Philadelphia, and experiencing housing insecurity or aging out of DHS care who have immense potential to realize their capacity for creativity, resilience, and dedication to themselves and others. Our program participants are likely to have faced adversity and life experiences that have made their path toward adulthood particularly difficult, including, but not limited to: poverty, trauma, oppression, homelessness and/or foster care.
Many of the city’s foster children age out of the system without a permanent placement and nearly 40% face homelessness shortly thereafter.
By partnering with agencies that serve homeless teenagers and those aging out of foster care, Hand2Paw is able to reach out to young people who have been oppressed by housing insecurity, and at times abuse and neglect.
MORE THAN “HOMELESS”
While homeless youth are a very diverse population, researchers have typically obtained much of the available information on those experiencing homelessness from youth currently residing in shelters or utilizing drop-in centers.
Some research indicates that only 10% of homeless youth access services designed for them, and that youth disconnected from services experience greater risk for a variety of psychosocial problems including substance use, mental health problems and greater difficulty exiting homelessness. Our objective is to provide those youth who have faced challenges with traditional employment with opportunities to learn the skills they need to transition to long term employment.
- Although the issue of homelessness exists nationwide, the problem is particularly acute in the city of Philadelphia, which a 2018 Pew study found to have a 37% childhood poverty rate.
- That same study found that 35% of adults who were raised in poverty reported experiencing physical abuse and neglect and 32% experienced physical or sexual abuse in the home.
- In addition, a 2015 Drexel study found that 1 in 4 young adults in Philadelphia are disconnected from both school and work.
Our participants are the real people behind these statistics.
For more information, check out our Homelessness and Anti-Racism Resources page.