Y2Y Harvard Square opens nation's first student-run homeless shelter for young adults

The Cambridge Chronicle– November 9, 2015

The Cambridge community and Y2Y Harvard Square held a ceremony Nov. 6 to mark the opening of the nation’s first student-run homeless shelter for young adults.

Working alongside the First Parish Church and AIDS Action Committee, Y2Y’s goal has been to renovate the church’s basement into a shelter that includes 22 gender-inclusive alcove beds that provide a safe space for young adults, 18 to 24 years old, transitioning out of homelessness. The shelter was co-founded by Sam Greenberg and Sarah Rosenkrantz, two Harvard University graduates.

The keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, kicked off much of the celebration and honed in the on the often-swept-aside issue of young adult homelessness.

“All young people have a right to live safely and with dignity. The challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness can be overwhelming, making it difficult to receive a good education, maintain good health, or hold a steady job,” Warren said. “Y2Y Harvard Square will play an important role as a safe place and resource for youth in our community who need a chance to get back on their feet.”

The construction of the shelter was made possible by a local team of construction experts, including Skanska USA, which donated its construction management services, Studio G, which designed the project, and Essex Newbury, which led construction efforts.

Youth on Fire serves homeless youth in the daytime with a safe space, food, laundry, showers, and a range of social services, and will co-locate with Y2Y to be able to fill a critical gap in what is currently offered — a warm and safe place to sleep.

“I’ve never been so proud to be apart of anything in my life. This project is a culmination of so much hard work, determination and love,” said Jamila Bradley, youth advocacy coordinator with Y2Y’s young adult advisory council. “This day makes everything real and everything worth it. We were heard. We were seen. We are here. And it all mattered.”