EVERETT, Wash. – Right now, 4,000 students are homeless in Snohomish County, according to a survey at area schools. There’s a big push to get those kids into housing with services available even after they’re considered adults.
Since 1991, non-profit Cocoon House has housed homeless kids in Everett. Starting Friday, staff and then youth clients from ages 18 to 24 years old will officially begin moving in to the new property.
Cocoon House Music Program Coordinator Raph Echols says music can open the door to expression for at-risk youth.
“It also gives them a voice. It gives them a self-esteem boost. But really, I just think it’s the best way to deal with trauma sometimes,” said Echols.
There’s a new recording studio at the new Cocoon House. It’s a place for 18 to 24 year olds who’ve dealt with traumatic childhoods.
“I basically felt worthless. Like my own dad didn’t want me living with him so I had to go stay with a friend,” said one former Cocoon House client.
“I was molested by my stepdad when I was 9 for over a year. My childhood went away very, very fast,” said another former Cocoon House client.
With troubling pasts, the new Cocoon House helps to move youth forward. This new building features private rooms, a laundry facility, a group living room, and even a medical examination room, which CEO Joseph Alonzo says often goes overlooked.
“A lot of times there’s a stigma for them to try to go into a medical office setting so they don’t typically get those needs taken care of,” said Alonzo.
Alonzo says most people in their late teens or early 20s have support from their families, but the population at Cocoon House needs wrap around services.
“A lot of our young people are from generational poverty, they’ve been homeless as an incomplete family. Several of our young people have suffered from addiction themselves or had parents with addiction issues or mental health issues so they weren't really well cared for as young children,” said Alonzo.
It’s not just for the 40 units in the building, but there are drop-in hours, too, for 12 to 24 year olds to come by and use the career development center, have a meal, or play music in the recording studio. Alonzo says by using music, it helps kids open up and maybe ask for help.
“'Hey I don’t have a place to stay. Can you help me with housing?' So we connect them with case management staff,” said Alonzo.
It’s a start, but there’s still about 150 young adults on a waiting list for help.
“You get pushed out at 18 and you're expected to figure it all out,” said Echols.
The Cocoon House is not yet a home. They’ll need donations of food and welcome baskets to help young people make this place their own. Click here to find a registry of needed items.
You can also support Cocoon House’s Butterfly Celebration on May 8 that honors the teens and young adults who’ve graduated out of their program.