Crete woman hosts sleepout for awareness about homeless students

April 17, 2024, 4 p.m. ·

A box and signs for Youth Homelessness Matters Day.jpg
Amy Hausman hosted a sleepout to raise awareness for youth homelessness in Crete. She set up a box to sleep in surrounded by yard signs and 300 flags to represent the 300 students impacted in the community. (Photo by Jolie Peal/Nebraska Public Media News)

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In front of Kalkwarf & Smith Law Offices on the corner of 13th and Ivy streets in Crete, Amy Hausman has set up a box with a pillow and blanket to sleep in. She’s surrounded by yard signs and 300 flags, hoping to raise awareness about the 300 students without consistent housing at Crete Public Schools.

“Three hundred is a staggering number, in my opinion,” Hausman said. “We came to Crete last year from a very small town, and that town has 300 children in their whole school district, so that felt enormous to me.”

Hausman called up her friend at the law firm to ask if she could spend the night on their lawn, and then she got to work getting supplies and spreading the word.

Amy Hausman with Sign
Amy Hausman, editor of The Crete News, planned the sleepout in 10 days. She heard about the issue at a school board meeting and wanted to do something to help. (Photo by Jolie Peal/Nebraska Public Media News)

Along with increasing awareness, Hausman used the sleepout as an opportunity to fundraise for the McKinney-Vento program at Crete Public Schools. That program helps homeless students who face challenges with enrolling and attending school.

“What I want to do is raise $25 a kid,” Hausman said. “That will get them a new pair of shoes and a backpack so that they start school in the fall like everybody else and have a fresh start and something that’s theirs to hang onto and makes them feel a little bit more included.”

Although Hausman said she planned to try to sleep in the box for the fundraiser, that’s not the typical picture of what homeless is for these students.

“It means unstable housing, or not secured housing,” Hausman said. “So it's a lot of unaccompanied youth. It's a lot of moving from one place one night to somewhere else, and just really not knowing where you're going to stay, and that's hard for any kid to be successful in school.”

Hausman will be outside the local business for 24 hours, from 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to 7:30 a.m. Thursday. She said she encourages people to stop by her sleepout to learn more about the issue.