The Link helps youth and young families overcome the impact of poverty and social injustice by providing shelter, housing, case management services and skills development to those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness, sex trafficking or involvement in the juvenile justice system.
With 23 programs across the Twin Cities, the program supports more than 2,000 youth and young families each year.
Making a difference for East Metro youth
As part of F. R. Bigelow Foundation’s focus to address homelessness and support affordable housing in the Saint Paul area, the Foundation has supported The Link’s suburban housing program in recent years. In 2020, 58% of youth housed in The Link’s suburban housing program identified themselves as East Metro residents, said Kesha Bradford, director of housing and supportive services for The Link.
“Overall, we are unapologetic about facing youth homelessness. We stand firmly in the knowledge that it is possible to end it, and we don’t take no for an answer,” Bradford said. “We try to provide our youth a hand up, a supportive voice and someone to walk alongside them on the journey of growing up and living on your own for the first time.”
This support takes the shape of offering suburban street outreach and a drop-in center for youth who need food, basic supplies or a supportive ear, she said. The Link also has a rapid rehousing program to get youth housed quickly and a permanent supportive program to help them build skills to sustain living on their own. They recently added a new minor emergency shelter and a hotel shelter program for older youth, increasing the supports available to youth experiencing homelessness.
During the pandemic, the Link adapted services to address the changing needs of those they serve, Bradford said. “We helped youth continue to stay housed as they lost jobs due to COVID. We took our case management mobile. If youth were quarantined, we delivered food to them,” she said, adding they provided internet access to help isolated individuals connect to job opportunities and the outside world.
Following the murder of George Floyd, The Link created outlets for youth to speak about their own experiences around racial relations and police brutality and to support each other.
F. R. Bigelow Foundation’s support is incredibly impactful, she said. “In 2020, the Foundation helped us offer stable housing to 33 East Metro youth, giving them a springboard to live the life that they deserve.”Learn More about The Link