Last year, more than 19,000 students in Chicago Public Schools were identified as homeless. This is not an isolated issue. There are layers of obstacles preventing positive solutions to the problem of youth homelessness. “The Homestretch,” a feature documentary that explores the lives of homeless adolescents in Chicago, will be screened at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave.

The film attempts to break harmful stereotypes and build the urgency necessary to address the national crisis of youth homelessness – particularly examining the struggles of unaccompanied homeless youth.

“The Homestretch” follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. Each of these smart, ambitious teenagers – Roque, Kasey and Anthony – will surprise, inspire, and challenge audiences to rethink stereotypes of homelessness. The teens work to complete their education while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age. Against all odds, these kids defy stereotypes as they create new, surprising definitions of home.

Christine Allender, event organizer, Rainbow Alliance and Food and Shelter Team at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, said, “Homestretch tells the stories of homeless youth in our backyard. You will see several social service programs that the Unitarian Church of Evanston has partnered with. The film’s gift to the viewer is a deeper understanding of the problem. And it is from this place that compassion and action can emerge.”

Co-directors and producers Anne De Mare and Kirsten Kelly said, “It is our hope that, through the deeply personal journeys of Kasey, Anthony and Roque, this film can shine a much needed light on one of the most hidden and exploited populations in America – unaccompanied homeless youth.”

A potluck dinner will precede the screening at 6:30 p.m. This screening is free and open to the public.