How has youth homelessness affected you and your community? What do you think should be done? Readers share their thoughts.

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As Seattle Times Opinion continues its youth homelessness series, we’ve asked readers to weigh in on the issue by answering two questions: How has youth homelessness affected you and your community? What do you think should be done?

A selection of responses is featured below:

“I met a homeless girl a month ago and learned a lot about attitudes toward the homeless. The majority of people I talk to about the homeless in Seattle think that homeless people are all drug addicts, manipulators, con artists or lazy. They don’t want to consider that there are people genuinely in need of help. There is a general attitude of self-righteous judgment rather than helpfulness and understanding.

Urgently needed are more places for the homeless to sleep in the wintertime, especially when the temperatures get really cold. The local shelters get filled up quickly and there are limited emergency shelters, very inadequate for what is needed.”

–Melissa Rose, Edmonds

“Youth homelessness has not directly affected me. However, knowing about this issue is heartbreaking. With so much wealth in Seattle and so many thriving companies, it is disheartening to see this situation in our community.

The county should develop a long-term partnership with area companies and develop a substantial endowment to be used to responsibly fund programs for homeless youths. Starbucks and the Gates family help millions of people all over the world — likely they can help lead this initiative in their home county.

The county can refurbish empty buildings into housing that could be run very safely and carefully by taking in low-risk, nonviolent kids.”

–Jacqueline Scimemi, Woodinville

“Spread the word. Education and knowledge on this problem is key to getting a movement going to stopping it.

Being a teen myself, I think that this problem hit me especially hard, knowing that if I had been a little less fortunate in life, I could be just another one of the kids in those statistics. It would be really cool to get a movement going that includes high-schoolers raising money.”

–Sophie Egrari, Medina

“It’s not exactly rocket science. One of the most significant factors here is the dysfunctional home life in which fathers, life-supporting values, faith and love are missing. Take away the foundation, and the structure collapses quickly.

Encourage and support anything that enhances the two-parent (mom and dad) traditional family in which both assume their needed place as loving, authoritative nurturers of their children.”

–Matt Knighton, Everett

“I think the plight of the homeless diminishes us all. It also leads to more crime and costs taxpayer dollars in programs to help.

On a national level, early education, drug awareness and early interventions could help prevent the problem, along with jobs programs that includes apprenticeship options. We need national health care that includes mental-health coverage, an education system that allows anyone an opportunity to go to college and a GI-type bill that enables students to earn college credits by military or Peace Corps service.

This would give everyone hope that they can earn a living and make something out of their lives.”

–Mike Millman, Woodinville