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Daybreak's new CEO Alisha Murray shares plans to address youth homelessness in Miami Valley

 Daybreak Dayton, Miami Valley's emergency youth shelter, has announced Alisha Murray as its new CEO.
Ngozi Cole
Daybreak Dayton, Miami Valley's emergency youth shelter, has announced Alisha Murray as its new CEO.

Daybreak Dayton, Miami Valley's only 24-hour crisis hotline and emergency youth shelter, has announced Alisha Murray as its new CEO. WYSO’s Ngozi Cole interviewed Alisha Murray about tackling youth homelessness and her plans for 2023.

Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity)

Alisha Murray: There is a uniqueness to serving youth in our community that are homeless because sometimes you don't visibly see them. They're not just hanging out on the streets. Sometimes they're couch hopping and they're sleeping in different people's homes. So we've been trying to just identify where they're at. But we're limited in the amount of youth we can have in our shelter. We currently have 16 beds for adults ages 18 to 21, and then we have eight beds for ages 10 to 17.

So as you can imagine, that's really small in comparison to what we're seeing. So we partner with a lot of our shelters in the community that see our youth as well so that we can go into those shelters to provide services to kind of pull them into our agency to start that service delivery.

Ngozi Cole: What were some of the key challenges Daybreak went through last year?

Alissa Murray: We're still dealing with the residual effects of what COVID did to youth that were displaced or homeless or dealing with, you know, housing instability. We're finding that we need to go back into the schools more and try to get them in that setting, because we're finding, based on our feedback from school officials and teachers that they're there, it's just hard to identify them. So we're hoping to make better connections in our school systems, to be more visible in the data in public school, as well as all the surrounding schools in the community.

Ngozi Cole: Can you talk a bit more addressing homelessness among vulnerable youth.

Alisha Murray: Fair housing is difficult for anyone who's dealing with housing instability, let alone someone who is young and maybe has a poor rental history or lack of employment. So it's just more challenging.

In 2021, we opened David's Place. We found that 40% of the youth identified with homelessness by national record were LGBTQ+. But at the time, based on our data, we only saw we were serving 20% of that youth. So we wondered, 'What's going on? Why is there a gap and why are we not seeing the fullness of those youth coming to us with housing and stability issues?' So opening David’s Place allowed us to be that beacon for the LGBTQ community and in hopes of making it easier and more comforting to come out and utilize services in a safe place where they're accepted.

Ngozi Cole: In your new role as CEO, what are you most excited about?

Alisha Murray: I'm just really excited about just the endless opportunities to continue to expand our services, be able to reach more youth in our community and hopefully make a positive impact and a difference.

Ngozi Cole is the Business and Economics Reporter for WYSO. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is a 2022 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow. Ngozi is from Freetown, Sierra Leone.