The Dream Tree Project is a community-based organization that strives to “provide a respectful, loving and safe place for growth and potential” for the homeless, abused, and neglected youth of Taos, New Mexico and the surrounding regions.
Taos County is a unique environment that, though, comprised mainly of a semi-rural population, is considered a resort. As a result, the cost of living in Taos is higher than any other county in New Mexico, placing an additional strain on the local population. Seasonal low-wage jobs are the norm in Taos due to the tourist economy and over one fourth of county residents live in poverty. One third of babies in Taos are born to single mothers, roughly 25% of whom are born to teenaged mothers, and the teen violent death rate is among the highest in the state.
The Dream Tree Project is a very special program that uses a “holistic approach” to combat homelessness among young people. They do not simply provide a place for the disaffected youth to seek brief respite, but rather a community in which they feel safe to identify their individual needs and weaknesses, as well as strengths, in order to work toward personal goals. Their Transitional Living Program encourages participants to pursue education and employment, and are given individualized training and support in order to do so. By becoming more independent, the youths can reestablish family ties or form some of their own and create a stronger community around them.