Shelter opens in St. Cloud for Homeless Youth

Categories: Around the Diocese

 

April 25, 2014, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Homeless youth will soon have a place to stay as they learn life skills to live successfully on their own.

Catholic Charities’ Youth House will open in May in St. Cloud. The house will be for homeless youth ages 16-21 committed to working with a case manager to meet their goals.

youthhouse

Up to seven youth may stay at Catholic Charities’ Youth House when it opens in May. The house is for homeless 16-21 year olds who will work with a case manager to learn life skills.
Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

“It’s a chance to start over,” said Stacy Pederson, program manager for Catholic Charities’ Support and Advocacy for Independent Living and Supportive Housing for Youth programs. “We want them to feel like they can live successfully on their own, but know that the staff is here to help them.”

While the number of homeless youth is difficult to track, the Wilder Research homeless study counted 72 unaccompanied homeless minors and 415 homeless young adults ages 18-21 in greater Minnesota on the day of its study, Oct. 25, 2012. The count included people staying in emergency and battered women’s shelters and transitional housing sites and those found through outreach in non-shelter locations.

Last year 183 youth contacted Catholic Charities’ SHY program. Fifty-nine youth participated in the program, which assists youth in obtaining and maintain a stable residence. The other youth received resources, backpacks or were turned away because the program was not able to help them.

Many circumstances lead youth to become homeless, such as aging out of foster care, mental health issues, lack of instruction for life skills, parents not being able to take care of them, lack of credit, being too young to rent an apartment or trafficking rings.

Homeless youth often “couch hop” or stay in tents, cars and shelters, Pederson said.

The youths will come to the Youth House based on referrals made by themselves, school districts, agencies and street outreach.

The Youth House has seven bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, laundry room, area for spirituality or meeting family members, bathrooms and staff rooms. Seven youth may stay at the house at a time when it opens. Five of the beds are for youth staying up to 24 months and two of the beds are for residents who will move through the program more quickly.

While staying at the Youth House the youth will work on personal goals for successful independent living. Their goals could include searching for housing, schooling, securing a job, reconnecting with family, improving mental or physical health, growing spiritually, learning how to budget and manage money or developing a transportation plan.

“We’re not just band-aiding,” Pederson said. “It’s a bridge filling a need. Sometimes they don’t have that person to help them.”

If their mental health or substance abuse problems are too severe, they will be referred to a different program.

Residents who are employed will be asked to pay a percentage of their income for rent at the Youth House. A portion of their rent money will be set aside for their savings.

The Youth House is also funded through Homeless Youth Act grant facilitated through the Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Economic Opportunity, United Way, Mardag Foundation, Morgan Family Foundation, Initiative Foundation, CentraCare Foundation and many donors.