Dawn DaytonMiami Valley’s only 24/7 emergency hotline and youth shelter announced Alisha Murray as its new CEO. Ngozi Cole of WYSO interviewed Alisha Murray about tackling youth homelessness and her plans for 2023.
Transcript (slightly edited for length and clarity)
Alisha Murray: Our community has a unique ministry to homeless youth because sometimes you don’t see them. They don’t just hang out on the streets. Sometimes they jump on sofas and sleep in different people’s houses. So we were just trying to determine where they are. But we are limited in the number of young people we can have in our shelter. We currently have 16 beds for adults aged 18-21 and eight beds for children aged 10-17.
As you can imagine, this is very small compared to what we see. So we are partnering with many of our shelters in the community who also see our youth so that we can go to these shelters to provide services to sort of get them into our agency to start providing these services.
Ngozi Cole: What were the key challenges that Daybreak faced last year?
Alyssa Murray: We are still dealing with the residual effects of what COVID has done to youth who have been displaced or homeless or are facing, you know, housing insecurity. We’re finding that we need to go back to schools more and try to put them in that environment because we’re finding, based on our feedback from school officials and teachers, that they’re there, they’re just hard to identify. . Therefore, we look forward to building stronger connections across our school systems to be more visible in public school data, as well as all nearby schools in the community.
Ngozi Cole: Could you tell us a little more about homelessness among vulnerable youth.
Alisha Murray: Fair housing is difficult for anyone dealing with housing instability, not to mention those who are young and may have a poor rental history or lack of employment. So it’s just harder.
In 2021 we opened Place of David. We found that 40% of young people identified as homeless in national data were LGBTQ+. But at the time, based on our data, we saw that we were serving only 20% of these youth. So we asked ourselves, “What is going on? Why such a gap and why do we not see the fulfillment of the youth who come to us with issues of housing and stability?” Thus, the opening of David’s Place has allowed us to become a beacon for the LGBTQ community in the hope of making it easier and easier to access and use services in a safe place where they are accepted.
Ngozi Cole: What are you most excited about in your new CEO role?
Alisha MurrayA: I’m just really excited about the just endless possibilities to continue expanding our services, to be able to reach more of the youth in our community and hopefully make a positive impact and make a difference.