By Ian Bush


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Couches are popping up on sidewalks across Philadelphia this week. They look inviting, but they’re actually designed to help a particular group of people get off the cushions.

Go ahead, put your feet up…

“We haven’t had any negative response yet, which is amazing,” said volunteer Valerie Johnson.

But from Johnson and other volunteers, you’ll hear why sofas like this one hide the true problem of homelessness when it comes to kids.

“What people don’t really know about homeless youth is that most of them are couch-surfing, so they’re not very visible,” Johnson said. “To bring awareness for such an invisible population, we decided to make it very visible by taking a couch and putting it on the sidewalk where you would expect to see someone experiencing homelessness.”

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Disproportionately affected, she says, are young people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender.

Johnson is with Valley Youth House, which helps kids find stability when it comes to a roof over their heads and an actual bed to sleep in, because couches don’t count.

“We’re hoping for more support for our programs,” she said. “We’re serving about 25 youth a year, but we know the demand is much greater so we want to do what we can to serve more youth and provide better resources to the youth we’re already working with.”

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