Tucson program strives to end homelessness for young adults

“You need help, everybody needs help and it’s good that I’m starting to realize that”
Tucson program strives to end homelessness for young adults
Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 10:30 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 10, 2021 at 7:28 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Unless homelessness is tackled at a young age, it can become a lifelong issue.

Young adults, who oftentimes don’t make enough money to live on their own, frequently slip through the cracks and end up living on the streets.

The nonprofit “I Am You 360″ is working to change that, one person at a time.

“Their homes had become toxic places and they had to leave,” said Desiree Cook, the founder and CEO of I Am You 360.

Some of the youth are left without the skills they need to survive on their own.

“You need help, everybody needs help and it’s good that I’m starting to realize that,” said 23-year-old Baneen Albotaify, who came to the U.S. from Iraq when she was 14 years old. “For the longest time, I made it hard on myself trying to make it on my own.”

That’s because she didn’t feel she had a choice. Once she found this program, it opened up her eyes.

She’s 1 1/2 years shy of getting a college degree in construction management and the requisite skills that go along with it.

I Am You 360 has 10 small units donated by a local businessman near Grant and Oracle where a group of young adults live while they’re learning life skills.

It’s not free. They pay $350 a month and they must work and have an income.

“We’re helping them with self-development and self-esteem. It is huge for their decision making and then adding the life skills piece to it is really significant,” Cook said. “That’s how we break generational cycles.”

On Saturday, the non-profit invited the Tucson Police Department, the Tucson Fire Department, the DEA and others for a cookout, which included hamburgers and potato salad.

They talked with the young adults, played card games and bragged about what a great program this is.

“I didn’t know it was here,” said one officer. “It’s great, it’s awesome.”

The program is very popular, but it’s not near enough. It has a waiting list of 125 although it’s unveiling a new community of nine tiny houses next week.

That’s still way short, but it’s progress towards its goal.

“The ultimate goal is to help them buy their home,” Cook said.

It’s a two- to three-year program for those accepted, who must go through a 10-page questionnaire.

“In the end, for them to save and have enough to buy their first home to truly end homelessness,” Cook said.

If you would like to get more information about this group or you would like to help out, click HERE.

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