NEW ORLEANS -- Cardboard boxes lined the front of Covenant House for their 6th annual 'Sleep Out.'
"I don't think you understand how hard it is to be a homeless kid," said Executive Director, Jim Kelly.
The event shines a light on homeless youth in New Orleans, a problem Kelly says is growing.
"I can tell you in the past six years, we've gone from caring for 45 young people a night, for caring for 176," he said.
One-in-ten young adults ages 18-to-25 endures some form of homelessness in a year according to Voice of Youth Count. It's a problem that continues to grow across the country.
A fundraiser going on Thursday night tried to give people a better picture of life on the streets.
For one night, people trade their comfy beds for the sidewalk. They also get the chance to meet and speak with Covenant House residents and hear their stories.
"This is my third time and my little 16-year-old children wanted to come and see what it is we do and what their lives are like," said participant Parker Sternbergh. "These kids are some of the most courageous people we come across."
Former resident, Tawana Ewing, knows the struggle.
"I was 17-years-old, my child was two-months and I had no place to go," she said.
She went to Covenant House, where staff she says became family. For her, seeing people sleep out year after year, encouraged her to keep moving forward.
"This place is such a safe haven to so many, especially for mothers with young children," she said. "(The event) really wakes them up."
The 'Sleep Out' is one-of-a-kind.
"We're going to come spend time with our young people and get to know how good, beautiful, and brave they are," Kelly said.
And it's important because it shows those going through a tough time, the community is there to support them.
"We don't want them being tomorrow's homeless, we don't want them in jail, we don't want them in mental health institutions," Kelly said. "These are young, resilient, people and we should help them today."
This event also raises money for Covenant House providing things like food, clothes, and shelter. As of Thursday evening, almost $430,000 had been raised. If you'd like to donate, go here.
© 2017 WWL-TV