The Link

Young man cooking at a stove

Providing a springboard to a better life for homeless youth

The Link helps youth and young families overcome the impact of poverty and social injustice by providing shelter, housing, case management services and skills development to those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness, sex trafficking or involvement in the juvenile justice system.

With 23 programs across the Twin Cities, the program supports more than 2,000 youth and young families each year.

Man unlocking the door to a home

Making a difference when it comes to homelessness

As part of its focus on funding programs that improve the lives of low-income children, youth and families that lack access to critical opportunities and resources they need, the Mardag Foundation has supported The Link’s housing services in recent years. In 2020 alone, this service housed more than 50 youth, said Kesha Bradford, Director of Housing and Supportive Services for The Link.

“Overall, we are unapologetic about facing youth homelessness. We stand firmly in the knowledge that it is possible to end it, and we don’t take no for an answer,” Bradford said. “We try to provide our youth a hand up, a supportive voice and someone to walk alongside them on the journey of growing up and living on your own for the first time.”

This takes the shape of suburban street outreach and a drop-in center for those needing food, basic supplies or a supportive ear. The Link also has a rapid rehousing program to get youth housed quickly and a permanent supportive program to help them build skills to sustain living on their own. They recently added a new minor emergency shelter and a hotel shelter program for older youth, increasing the supports available to youth experiencing homelessness.

During the pandemic, the Link adapted programs to address the changing needs of those they serve, Bradford said. “We helped youth continue to stay housed as they lost jobs due to COVID. We took case management mobile. If youth were quarantined, we delivered food to them,” she said, adding The Link provided internet access to help isolated individuals connect to job opportunities and the outside world.

Following the murder of George Floyd, The Link created outlets for youth to speak about their own experiences around racial relations and police brutality and to support each other.

Mardag Foundation’s support has been critical to The Link’s ability to help the youth they serve, Bradford said. “In 2020, the Foundation helped us offer stable housing to youth, giving them a springboard to live the life that they deserve.”

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