More than one and a half million people call West Michigan home. Sadly, for some of the youngest in that number, the definition of home doesn't come with the warmth and stability many others may take for granted.
For a number of services, but most importantly the chance at a home and stable friendships, youth in need can call 3:11 Youth Housing. Headquartered at 623 Naylor St. SW, the organization sets once homeless young people on a path toward a "healthy interdependence" with safe and affordable places to live and grow.
The help couldn't have come at a better possible time for the young people who have made it through 3:11's program and are now living on their own; or likewise for those who have landed fulfilling jobs through Bethany Christian Services, or found friendship and hope at Grand Rapids HQ. But they're just a fraction of a growing issue.
In many parts of the country, child homelessness, is getting larger each year. According to U.S. Census data from 2013, there were almost two and a half million homeless children living on the streets, representing one in every 30 in the country. That number was 8 percent higher than the population of homeless children estimated in the previous year.