Why did we create the HUB?
Durham is a vibrant community with abundant economic and social assets, but there are large segments of the community who do not have reliable and easy access to these resources. Our county and city governments' strategic plans acknowledge this, with a few of their specific goals being to increase support for: community and family prosperity and enrichment, health and well-being for all, talent development, and safe housing for all.
One of the most vulnerable points in a person's life is when they transition to adulthood, with full independence from their guardians and the public infrastructure that was required to assist them in their youth. This transition is especially hard for those who lack economic and social resources as they enter adulthood. As an example of the breadth of this issue, during the 2013/14 school year, Durham Public Schools identified 880 instances of students being homeless or without a stable home. This reflects only the known instances of housing crises by youth attending public school, and thus only scratches the surface in identifying youth and young adults who need community support to help meet their fundamental needs.
Durham has seen an increased need for services and the coordination of resources for homeless young adults in the last 5 years. A point in time count in January, 2014, identified 82 homeless youth/young adults ages 16-24 in Durham. However, we know from our direct work with this population that the number of young adults living in their cars or motels, "couch surfing," or living in other insecure housing would increase that number by dozens, if not hundreds. Durham completed a new youth point in time count in May, 2017. The data is available here.
At the beginning of 2015, representatives of The Life Skills Foundation (LSF) and the BECOMING project based at Alliance Behavioral Healthcare began discussing what was most needed in Durham to support this population. Based on conversations that LSF and BECOMING staff had with youth, families, and community partners, and their reflections on lessons learned over the years about community service gaps, it was clear that Durham would benefit greatly from a drop-in resource center to simplify, expand, and sustain youth and young adult-friendly services in the County. The HUB was envisioned as a place that imposes as few restrictions as possible for community members to receive assistance, that is responsive to all immediate crisis and longer-term transition age life needs (e.g., education/literacy, employment, legal, mental health, physical health, substance use, interpersonal relations and communications, economic competence and assistance, parenting and child care assistance), that emphasizes the development of strengths to meet future needs, and that serves as a coordinating hub for the broad range of services that are currently available in Durham and that can be developed in the future.
Centers serving similar functions currently fill important roles in other communities (some of what Haven House does in Raleigh is a local example). These centers provide clear benefits for youth, including those who are experiencing, or at risk for, homelessness. At the national level, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness recently identified drop-in centers as a key aspect of their vision for a coordinated and comprehensive community response to youth homelessness, and research on homeless young adults has indicated that drop-in centers are utilized more than emergency shelters and that they contribute to significant improvements in mental health, substance use, and days housed.