People camp out in cold to raise money for homeless youth

People camp out in Colorado Springs on Thursday, Nov. 8 as part of Urban Peak's "Night Out to End Youth Homelessness."

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - About 75 people woke up Friday morning having spent the night in sleeping bags out in the cold.

The “Night Out to End Youth Homelessness” is hosted every year by Urban Peak, a nonprofit organization that helps youth experiencing homelessness. It’s held each November, which is National Runaway and Homeless Youth month.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come out and hear, or experience, a little bit of what the homeless youth experience living out in the streets,” said Andy Petersen, Urban Peak’s development director.

He said youth homelessness is a growing issue in El Paso County. A recent study identified about 1,500 people who are homeless, and one in 10 are young people.

“We know that about 150 people were youth out on the streets,” Petersen said. “That’s twice as many people that signed up to do the night out.”

This year's event was held at First United Methodist Church in downtown Colorado Springs. The people who participated started Thursday night with a light meal, similar to what people would get at a soup kitchen. The participants then attended two programs to learn more about youth homelessness. They ended the night by setting up sleeping bags and trying to sleep outside.

The people who participated were asked to raise money to support Urban Peak’s mission. Students were asked to raise $250, and adults were asked to raise $1,000.

Petersen said it costs about $71 to provide shelter and resources for a child for one night. That’s about $500 per week.

“The average stay at our shelter is about six weeks, and my goal is to raise $3,000 to see if we can secure that time for youth,” he said. “We’re hoping that all the money raised here will keep beds full through New Year’s.”

Urban Peak has a 20-bed shelter and helped more than 600 young people build a better future in 2017. Organizers said the participants raised about $28,000 during the camp out. Their goal is to raise $50,000. People who would like to help can donate here.