Dozens plan to sleep outside in cardboard boxes to raise money for homeless youth

Dozens of people will sleep in a cardboard box outside a youth homeless shelter in east Santa Rosa Friday night to raise money for housing homeless youth.

Each of the 47 people participating in the “One Cold Night” event at the Social Advocates for Youth’s Finley Dream Center will be given a garbage bag, sleeping bag and cardboard box, and each has raised at least $2,500 that will go to SAY’s housing programs.

The participants include community leaders, young professionals, activists and mothers of formerly homeless youth.

The sleeping bags will be laundered after the event and given to homeless youth by SAY’s street outreach team.

Social Advocates for Youth met its $100,000 fund raising target Tuesday, but SAY is accepting pledges through Friday, spokeswoman Caitlin Childs said this afternoon.

The Dream Center is the only shelter for homeless youth 18 to 24 between San Francisco and Oregon. It provides short and long-term housing for up to 40 youth ages 18 to 24 at the Dream Center which opened in December 2015, Childs said.

Social Advocates for Youth also provides transitional housing services, and individual and family therapy programs for youth ages 5 to 25 and career and life readiness programs for youth ages 14 to 24.

In 2015, 130 youth found a safe place to stay at a SAY housing program, and 76 percent transitioned into stable housing when they moved out, according to SAY.

Eighty-four percent of SAY’s residents are working or in school, and 63 percent increased their income while living at SAY housing.

In Sonoma County, 663 youth under age 25 were homeless, according to a January 2016 point-in-time census sleep. Ninety percent of them slept outside at night.

A candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. precedes the sleep out in the parking lot of SAY’s Finley Dream Center at 2447 Summerfield Road in Santa Rosa, the site of the former Sutter Warrack Hospital.

Between 125 and 175 people are expected to attend the vigil, including Sonoma County Supervisors Susan Gorin, Shirlee Zane and James Gore.