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Lifeworks reaches out to homeless youth

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TWC News: Lifeworks reaches out to homeless youth
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About 4,000 people in Austin sleep on the streets every night, and 5 percent of them are under the age of 25.

Lifeworks’ Street Outreach program caters to homeless teens and young adults. Some come for food and a place to hang out, but the majority of them want to change their way of life.

Acudetox is just one reason Duikey Cruz goes to the Lifeworks drop-in. She’s part of the homeless youth population.

"The first day I came here, I fell in love with it." Cruz said. "I didn't have to worry about getting stabbed like I did at the ARCH."

Most homeless youth stay away from the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, where most chronically homeless adults go.

"The kids don't feel like they fit in that population at all. There's almost a subculture of the homeless that are consisting of youth," Lifeworks spokesperson Will Hancock said.

Youth find out about the drop-in by word of mouth.

The Lifeworks Street Outreach program operates out of the Congregational Church of Austin, at 23rd Street and San Antonio. The church is part of Micah 6, a group of nine UT-area churches which banded together a decade ago to help the homeless.

The drop-in, however, is the only one of its kind in Austin. Organizers say they have about 30 teens and young adults that come in per day.

"Kids who want to come in and engage in a case management program, counseling program that we offer, about 30 percent of those will get into housing, following getting a job or some education," Hancock said.

Cruz says she wants to be a writer, but for now she just wants a job. Lifeworks helped Cruz get a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission certificate to help her get a job as a bartender or server.

It’s one step closer to getting back on her feet.

To get involved with the Lifeworks street outreach program as a volunteer, or to get help yourself, click here.

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