Y2Y Harvard Square, a student-run overnight shelter, employs a youth-to-youth model to provide a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness.
More information on how to enter the shelter lottery will be available closer to our opening date.
To volunteer with Y2Y Harvard Square, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Y2Y Harvard Square, a student-run overnight shelter, employs a youth-to-youth model to provide a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness. Y2Y guests will have opportunities to collaborate with service providers, other young adults experiencing homelessness, and student volunteers to create sustainable pathways out of homelessness and develop skills for long-term success. Y2Y provides opportunities for both guests and volunteers to become the next generation’s leading advocates for youth-driven solutions to homelessness.
History of Y2Y Harvard Square
In 1983, four students from Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School recognized the needs of the growing population experiencing homelessness in Harvard Square. They opened a shelter in the basement of the University Lutheran Church, the first student-run homeless shelter in the country. Today, the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter (HSHS) is one of the most well respected service providers in the Greater Boston area. From November to April, HSHS provides high quality services including shelter, food, clothing, and case management to between 24 and 29 guests every night.
In 2012, student leaders at HSHS realized that there was potential to do more to serve the community of people experiencing homelessness in Greater Boston. They discovered an urgent and growing need among young adults experiencing homelessness, who were receiving inadequate resources. After a long feasibility process of research and discussions with advisors and service providers, the students determined that the ideal way for HSHS to expand and improve its services would be to create a shelter dedicated to meeting the unique needs of young adults ages 18-24. Since then, the group has grown to include graduate students, faculty, advocates, community members, and service providers. Today, we are working together to make our vision: a network of communities where all young adults experiencing homelessness have a safe place to rest, grow, and lead, a reality.
As of December 22nd, Y2Y has opened its doors to the youth of the Greater Boston area.
In Greater Boston, there are at least 600 young adults experiencing homelessness, but only 12 youth shelter beds dedicated to their needs. Many young adults report feeling unsafe at adult shelters and prefer the streets, resulting in a high risk of trauma.
Most young adults find themselves homeless for one of three reasons: home is not safe, home is not supportive, or home does not exist. Often, young adults are fleeing situations of physical and sexual abuse, strained relationships, or parental neglect. There is a strong correlation between youth homelessness and LGBTQ identity. National data suggest that up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and local data suggests similar numbers (True Colors Fund). 36% of youth aging out of foster care experience homelessness before they turn 26; homelessness often affects youth cut off from a familial support system as they seek employment and housing.
With these issues in mind, Y2Y Harvard Square will be gender-inclusive and will strive to create a trauma-informed space that is safe and welcoming to all.
The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter has defined the college careers of thousands of Harvard undergraduates. Y2Y will provide the opportunity for roughly 150 additional students per year from across greater Boston to immerse themselves in meaningful and life-changing work.
Before the shelter opens, students in Greater Boston are welcomed to devote their time to the preparation of the shelter. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the development of the shelter, including fundraising, programming development, and marketing. Upon opening in November, interested students and community members areencouraged to sign up for a weekly breakfast, dinner, evening, or overnight shift at the shelter, or to join as a substitute volunteer or during school vacations.
If you would like to receive more information about becoming a volunteer with Y2Y, sign up for the Y2Y mailing list at http://y2yharvardsquare.org/getinvolved.