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Transforming Lives of Homeless Youth with the Star House & Ann Bischoff

When you walk around Columbus, one population you don’t encounter are the homeless, but they are here behind the backdrop of the city.  The organization Star House reaches out to specifically help those who are between the ages of 14 to 24 and don’t have permanent housing.  Star house offers a safe place, providing these homeless youth with access to food and basic needs, showers, resources, and counseling.  Not only are they the only research-based drop-in center in the country, but they are also launching a social enterprise to help this vulnerable population get the support they need to get on their feet. 

For episode 21, I sat down with Ann Bischoff, CEO of Star House to learn more about their mission and understand better the homeless youth they serve, and some of the challenges they face.

The Four Pillars of Stability

Ann described the four pillars that people need in order to have stability – housing, transportation, jobs and support from others.  Without any one of these pillars, then the others fall apart.

Without transportation or stable housing, it’s hard to get a job.  And without a job, you can’t get housing or afford transportation.  Without support from others, then dealing with the complexities of the three other pillars can be paralyzing.  It’s a catch-22.

It’s a catch-22.

This is why Star House exists – to help set these pillars up, in a way that they’re not going to just collapse after a short period of time.

Understand What You Don’t See

I think Ann really explained it well that you can drive from the suburbs downtown to work, and never see the epidemic of homelessness in Columbus.  I’m so glad of the work that Star House is done, but it’s so clear that there is so much more to do. 

If you want to explore the conversation further, The Columbus Metropolitan Club is having a talk at noon on November 29th about the Unexpected Face of Homelessness: Teens on the Street to explore this topic further.  It’s down at the Boat House at Confluence Park, and you can find more on columbusmetroclub.org.

If you would like to find out more about Star House, then visit starhousecolumbus.org, or follow them on Facebook at fb.com/starhousecolumbus.  And, winter is here – if you have spare warm jackets, clothing, blankets or tents for the winter – make a donation!!

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