Hope for homeless youth grows with new shelter slated for St. George

ST. GEORGE — Homeless teens throughout Washington County who have inadequate or nonexistent housing can be found living in storage units, shelters or with families of fellow students during a period of significant growth and development. While a majority of teens go through this period in the safety of a stable home, these teens are left to fend for themselves.

During a press conference held at the Washington County School District office Friday, a coalition of youth service providers and community agencies announced that a homeless shelter and resource center for youth is planned for downtown St. George. The coalition has worked on the project for nearly a year.

The facility will provide emergency overnight shelter, temporary housing and ongoing supportive services for Washington County’s homeless youth, ages 12-20.

Youth Futures Utah, which opened a homeless youth shelter in downtown Ogden in 2015, plans to build the shelter, organization Executive Director Kristin Mitchell said. It will be modeled after the agency’s temporary residential support shelter services for youth, 12-17, for transitional housing for homeless young adults, 18-20, and for daytime services for youth.

The facility is slated to open February 2019, with an interim shelter opening spring 2018 while the new facility is being constructed.

Local leaders are aiming to build on property located off of 200 East and 190 North, St. George. Because the land is owned by the state, Rep. V. Lowry Snow said, a legislative act is required. He plans to introduce legislation for this purpose during the 2018 general session.

“I’m very confident that this will receive approval from out legislative body so that we can move forward,” he said.

The new facility will meet a critical need in the community, Scott Cattucio, co-founder and president of Youth Futures, said. His interest in helping homeless youth comes in part because he was once one himself, he said.

More than 1,160 unaccompanied, homeless youth were identified during the 2016-17 school year, said Mike Carr, Washington County School District’s homeless liaison and support services coordinator.

Read more: Groups advocate for future of homeless youth; a look at the numbers

The first priority for homeless youth is their shelter and safety, being that homelessness has far-reaching effects on their ability to concentrate and learn at school. Stability in the school environment is key to helping them stay there, Carr said, adding that when youth are worried about where they are going to live, whether they have clothes to wear or food to eat, then education is nowhere on the list.

It can be difficult to focus on school when they are focused on only one thing: surviving,” Carr said.

The youth homeless population may be on the rise.

Last year, Switchpoint Community Resource Center, which provides shelter to homeless in the area among other services, had to turn away 90 unaccompanied minors because, Executive Director Carol Hollowell said, “state law separates unaccompanied minors in shelter situations.”

The proposed youth residential shelter would provide 15-20 temporary overnight shelter beds for youth, 12-17, including intensive case management, therapy, life-skills classes and connections to educational and community resources to help youth become reunited with family.

The transitional shelter would offer 10-15 beds for young adults, 18-20, including life-skills classes, case management and connections to housing and employment resources to assist youth in a healthy transition to adulthood.

“What we have seen in Ogden is many youth who turn 18 and have no place to go,” Mitchell said, “with no one to turn to.”

Speakers at Friday’s press conference also included Adult Living Coordinator Krystal Jones, with Division of Child and Family Services, Hollowell and Youth Futures donor Neca Allgood.

More information on the project can be found on the Youth Futures website.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

 

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3 Comments

  • karensg September 10, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Why does the main page only hold its stories for a few seconds before jumping around and losing the recent ones?

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic September 10, 2017 at 6:41 am

      It should not be doing that, Karen. We’ve recently upgraded to a new host, I will relay your issue to one of our programmers – watch for an email as they will want to know what kind of a device you are using and what browser. Or you may email us that information directly: news@stgnews.com.

      We appreciate your bringing it to our attention,

      ST. GEORGE NEWS
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

  • Honor1st September 11, 2017 at 7:51 am

    The idea of kids homeless & ‘fending for themselves’ is heartbreaking .
    Thank-You to all those involved in making this project come to fruition .

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