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About 125 People Sleep Out for Attention Homes in Boulder

November 11, 2017 GMT

On any given night in Boulder County, anywhere between 150 and 250 people younger than 25 are living on the streets.

Claire Clurman, executive director of Attention Homes, a Boulder-based organization that provides services to homeless youth, said that many young people living on the street have aged out of foster care and don’t have the necessary skills to provide for themselves. About 30 percent, she said, are LGBTQ youth who’ve been cast out of their homes.

“Every young person has a different story,” she said.

On Thursday night, about 125 people gathered in the basement labyrinth of the First United Methodist Church to eat dinner and share stories before participating in the sixth annual Sleep Out for Homeless Youth on the lawn outside. Each “sleeper” pledged to raise $1,000 to support Attention Homes.

“It’s amazing,” Clurman said. “We’ve already raised more than $100,000.”

She added that the church has been vital in the success of Attention Homes, and Thursday’s sleep out was even more special as it occurred ahead of groundbreaking of a 40-unit housing project that will service homeless youth.

The National Weather Service predicted that temperatures in Boulder would drop to 34 degrees overnight — just above freezing — and the air outside the church had become frosty by 9 p.m.

Brittny Wilson, senior vice president of development and marketing for Attention Homes, said that the sleepers included elected officials from Boulder, Boulder County and Lafayette as well as a Longmont city official, which she said is a good sign that the county is coalescing around youth homelessness.

“The awareness is really becoming countywide,” Wilson said. “The whole county is coming together. ... It’s something we aspire to because we serve the whole county.”

Attention Homes is expected to provide services to more than 600 young people by the end of the year through a street outreach program, day drop-in center and overnight shelter. Services connect vulnerable youth to education, employment, housing, family reunification, mental health and substance abuse support, according to a news release.

Don Stensrud principal at Fairview High, said he was participating in the sleep out for the sixth time on Thursday night. He does so, in part, because he can’t recall a single semester during his 14 years at the high school where at least one student wasn’t living on the street — some of whom are helped by Attention Homes.

Stensrud said people in Boulder acknowledge the issue of homeless adults but seem hesitant to talk about youth homelessness. He added that people need to be bold when addressing the issue.

“The greatest thing we can do is make Attention Homes unnecessary,” he said.

John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/johnbearwithme