SPRINGFIELD, Mo– At age 19, Dakota was living on the streets.
“I actually slept by the bridge back behind the building here for a good time,” says former homeless young person, Dakota Matheson.
But after 3 months of that bleak living situation, he found homeless youth outreach group, The Rare Breed.
“They literally saved my life,” he says.
Today at “The Breed” as Dakota calls it, community organizations gathered, all to find out people like Dakota are far from rare.
The Rare Breed and 11 other similar agencies across the region recently surveyed more than two hundred of the young people using their services.
Here’s just some of what they found in their study:
-26 of the young people surveyed were homeless with their families while 43 were homeless and alone when surveyed
Those numbers are even harder to swallow when you consider the mental state it leaves these kids in.
-65% of those lone homeless youth had considered suicide and 51% had already engaged in self-harm.
“As far as the psychological part of it you can really freak yourself out,” attests Matheson.
“People don’t like to see it. People don’t like to talk about it,” says Samantha Sudduth with The Rare Breed.
Sudduth says she’s hoping the numbers don’t just open eyes, but also move people to act.
“The community has to care about this problem. It can’t just be the rare breed,” she says.
Hopefully, with enough awareness, we can see more happy endings to stories like Dakota’s. Who now, at 24, no longer relies on the services of the rare breed, but instead provides them as one of their workers.
“I got a roof over my head. So I feel pretty good about that. After a while it just sort of felt like home.”
According to the Rare Breed, they have a number of events planned for Homeless Awareness Month.
Among them are this weekend’s Sleepout, which you can register for here.
They also plan to hold a few events regarding their homeless housing initiatives.