KUNM

Social Isolation During COVID-19 Impacts N.M. Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Mar 23, 2020

There are about 4,000 to 5,000 homeless youth in Bernalillo County alone, making them especially vulnerable during this coronavirus outbreak. 

The state decision to close school until April 6, means those kids will also lose the security that education provides them.

Right now, minimizing contact with others is the best thing to do, but those who are experiencing homelessness, especially children, bear the brunt of social isolation, said Steve Johnson, CEO of New Day Youth and Family Services. One thing that could help this community is quick testing so shelters can stay open while mainta ing safe quarantine, said Johnson.

"If it takes three days to get the test back, we may be frozen in place until we get an answer back," said Johnson. 

Stable living environments are New Day's focus and they provide access to a drop-in center, crisis shelter, and transitional living programs. But Johnson said because things are changing rapidly, it's important to call to make sure New Day has availability. 

Even though offering young people a safe place to be is a priority, Johnson said kids experiencing homelessness and histories of trauma may suffer from the absence of person-to-person support that is essential to them getting back on their feet. 

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