National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Get to Know a Grantee: Looking Glass

The RHY Clearinghouse developed the Get to Know a Grantee questionnaire to illustrate the great variety of youth-serving FYSB grantees, to share their insights on the work that they do, and to inspire collaboration and the sharing of experiences and ideas. We regularly share responses from grantees in the hope that you’ll learn more about the needs of runaway and homeless youth or, if you’re a grantee, that you’ll find some new approaches or ideas to inspire the work you do on behalf of vulnerable youth in your community. Contact us if you’d like to be featured. 

For this edition of Get to Know a Grantee, we spoke with Kirstin London, Director of RHY Services for Looking Glass Youth and Family Services in Eugene, OR.

NCHYF: How long have you had a FYSB grant?  

KIRSTIN LONDON: Looking Glass Community Services started receiving FYSB funding in 1974.

NCHYF: What other sources of funding are essential to your program?

LONDON: We receive state funding through the Department of Human Services, United Way, and HUD funding — both state and federal HUD dollars administered through our county. And of course, we also receive support from local donors.

NCHYF: What’s the primary need of homeless youth in your community?  

LONDON: Oregon has become a popular place to move to! In our county we have less than a 1 percent rental market and, because of the large migration to our city, high rents. Housing prices have increased by 8.3 percent since the beginning of 2019. Employment wages have not increased at the same rate, making the gap between wages and expenses feel bigger. With a tight rental market and lack of affordable housing, it is increasingly hard to find housing.  

NCHYF: What has been your most important collaboration with a local partner?  

LONDON: We are lucky to have great partners and collaborators in our area. It’s hard to pick just one. We currently sit on Youth Homelessness Solutions Workgroup for the Poverty and Homelessness Board. The board has made great efforts to make sure that youth homelessness is addressed in our area. They have implemented our first youth-specific Point-in-Time count this year, developed a youth-specific systems map, and a needs assessment. The Workgroup is composed of youth, service providers including McKinney-Vento Liaisons, and Child Welfare and county employees.  

NCHYF: What sets your organization apart from other similar organizations?  

LONDON: Our focus on the diversification of funding has allowed us to develop programming that is relevant to our client base and meets its diverse needs. We strive to participate as leaders in our community and in the RHY field. Our staff have facilitated trainings nationally and locally. We sit on national and local advisory boards that focus on supporting the field and ensuring that services offered are meeting the current needs based on identified trends. 

NCHYF: What do you wish more people in your community (or the country) understood about youth homelessness?

LONDON: Homelessness is a multifaceted issue that requires the community stakeholders to come together to solve. So often service providers are tasked with “ending” an issue. It is vital to identify and partner with service providers who can provide programming and services that will benefit your client base. For example, our local HIV service provider is at our drop-in center every week to provide confidential testing and information and referrals. Studies show that providing a “one-stop shop” increases positive outcomes and helps move people closer to stabilization. Homelessness requires attention from representatives from housing, community members, service providers, employers, youth with lived experience, and county and city officials. It really does take a village.