Interior Community Comes Together To Experience 'One Homeless Night'

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Interior residents rolled out their sleeping bags over the weekend to attend the 6th annual 'One Homeless Night' event.

"You don't have a home you can't shower, you can't bathe, you can't sleep. You don't really have shelter so it's kind of hard to get out of it."

"We have a better understanding of how it would be to be a youth then those who don't or who are older."

These boys from First Presbyterian Church were some of the many youth and adults attending the Fairbanks Youth Advocates', One Homeless Night event.

Julia Laude, Reporting:
"One Homeless Night is an event to show how many homeless youth and adults spend their nights. That means cardboard boxes and sleeping bags, but for me, it's just a sleeping bag."

The Fairbanks Youth Advocates operates the Youth Shelter called 'The Door' - which focuses on teen homelessness.
The Door can house up to 12 teens at a time.
Unfortunately The Door is currently the only youth shelter in Fairbanks.

Executive Director of the Fairbanks Youth Advocates, Marylee Bates, says even with the limited number of beds, they would never turn away a child in need.

"Certainly, sleeping outside without sturdy shelter over you is certainly what a lot of our folks in our community are experiencing both youth and adults. We would not turn anyone away if we had to especially in the winter we rather them be safe and inside and warm. They might not get a mattress to sleep on but we wouldn't turn anyone away."

Both Fairbanks City Mayor Jim Matherly and Borough Mayor Karl Kassel attended the event.

Even on the eve of his birthday, Mayor Kassel knew he had to support his community.

"Happy Birthday dear Kassel. Happy Birthday to you."

Homelessness has even touched Mayor Matherly's family.
This is his first time attending an event like this.

"This event was a no-brainer for me. I remember when Marylee Bates of Fairbanks Youth Advocates came and talked to the council, when I was still a councilman, and her idea was just a kernel of hope. I knew to be an effective mayor and a caring mayor, I had to go out and involve myself in these kinds of things. Spending overnight in a box, there's been some fun that we've had decorating them and setting them up but really we know that it's something much more serious because some people do it more than just once, they do it several times. To me, to come out to show my support was absolutely the right thing to do."

116 different teens were seen at The Door within the last year.
According to Bates, 50 percent of children find a stable situation within a week.