During their days as undergrads at Harvard, Sam Greenberg and Sarah Rosenkrantz worked at Harvard Square Homeless Shelter (HSHS), a student-run shelter for adults experiencing homelessness. During their time there, the two realized that the same services that existed for adults were scant for youth experiencing homelessness in the city. At the time, there was only one shelter in the Boston area serving youth under 24. They also became aware of an underutilized volunteer base in their fellow classmates. Lacking in space, HSHS would be forced to turn away people seeking beds, as well as would-be volunteers seeking to help.
To meet this need, Sam and Sarah created Y2Y Harvard Square, which is believed to be the nation’s first student-run shelter for youth experiencing homelessness. The pair renovated the basement of First Parish in Cambridge and opened the shelter for business on December 22, 2015 and closed for the season on April 15, 2016. Y2Y Harvard Square provides gender-inclusive housing for 30-day or 1-night stays for people age 18-24 in Boston.
In its first year, Y2Y Harvard Square served 83 young people, saw eight young adults move into long term transitional or permanent housing, and supported a number of other guests in accessing IDs, benefits, and jobs. They learned a lot about their guests during their first season. The average guest was 22 years old, 29% served identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning, and overwhelming majority of guests reported feeling very safe at Y2Y.
Y2Y Harvard Square will be re-opening on October 15th and will run for 6 months. In the coming years, Sam, Sarah, and the whole team hope to add emergency beds, extend their season, and expand access to services for youth.
Check out their website to learn more and get involved!