Sharonda (name changed for privacy) moved into her college-style dormitory on Camillus House’s main campus in Miami’s health district in late January 2021. She is 21 years old. At this tender age in the midst of the pandemic, her mother had Sharonda involuntarily committed under the Baker Act for severe mental health issues. After her resulting hospitalization successfully facilitated full stabilization, Sharonda nonetheless now faced the prospect of homelessness for the first time in her life because her mother had decided she did not want her back home.

But thanks to Camillus House’s intensive outreach efforts with longtime fellow members of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust’s Continuum of Care, the Camillus Youth Housing Initiative (CYHI) stepped in for Sharonda just in time to prevent her homelessness. CYHI became the transitional housing bridge to support Sharonda as she works hard with case managers to chart a new path towards safe and stable housing.

A Camillus House employment specialist found Sharonda a job washing dishes at a large luxury hotel close by. She gets there through the convenience of the Metrorail, located only a few minutes walking distance from both Camillus and her work. Sharonda exudes the sense of pride that comes with venturing bravely out into the world with a plan designed by her Camillus case manager to save money for her own housing as soon as she is ready to move on from CYHI. Although Sharonda, like the 12 youth at a time and upwards of 40 annually who participate in the program, is permitted to stay for up to 2 years while she gets her life in order, her progress may come even faster.

Thanks to CYHI, Sharonda not only found work but can save on her work commute costs through subsidized train passes. Her case manager similarly finds benefits for which she qualifies to augment her savings. And with meals and referrals to mental and physical health services covered, she is in a great place to fledge out on her own soon.

Successes like Sharonda and her peers served through the Camillus Youth Housing Initiative are simply not possible without the generous donations of the community. On behalf of the homeless and unaccompanied youth served, we invite you to support our mission through the Camillus Youth Housing Initiative.

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