Over the past four years, residents of Lake Forest Park and Shoreline have been working to address a critical need in their community: the lack of resources for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. Year after year, community members analyzed the results from their annual point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness as well as data from the Shoreline School District. The numbers were impossible to ignore. Youth homelessness rates were rising yet there were no organizations in either municipality to serve them.
So, the community decided to take matters into their own hands: they organized. The Rotary Club of Lake Forest Park, the North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA), and the City of Lake Forest Park joined forces and worked with King County Councilmember, Rod Dembowski, to help address the need. The Rotary Club of Shoreline, the City of Shoreline, and the Shoreline School District later joined the efforts as well, adding increased capacity. In 2019, after years of advocacy, community members successfully secured funding in the King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy for a Youth Resource Navigator to serve young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park.
Next came a space. George Piano, long-time member of the Lake Forest Park Rotary and Chair of their Homeless Youth Project, identified an office in the Lake Forest Park Town Center. The office—which had been formerly owned by a local doctor—had been sitting vacant for almost a year. Merlone-Geier, the property management company of the Center, offered to give George a discounted rent in order to support the community’s young people.
From there, both Rotary clubs launched a yearlong fundraising effort to furnish and renovate the space, underwrite the rent, and create a client assistance pool for youth who needed immediate help. But they still needed to find an organization that could provide the outreach and referral services.
That’s where YouthCare came in. Working with social service organizations in north King County, the Shoreline Youth and Teen Development Center, and REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trades), YouthCare staff will operate the newly renovated space in Lake Forest Park starting in February 2021.
The Resource Center will be open several evenings a week and primarily accessible via appointment or referral. There, young people ages 12-24 will be able to meet with the youth resource navigator and access basic resources, like hygiene supplies, non-perishable food, bus passes and cellphones, as well as WIFI and computer access so young people can connect remotely with other services. The youth navigator will also help connect young people to shelter and housing, medical and behavioral healthcare, education and employment training, and other community resources. Later down the line, YouthCare hopes to use the equipment installed by the previous owner to offer onsite medical care.
Check out this slideshow of photos from our soft opening of the Youth Resource Center and a few introductions from YouthCare staff!
“What I’m most excited for is bringing our services to the north region: creating new partnerships and building community for young people experiencing homelessness in this area. We’re leveraging our services and coming together as one. The north-end is new for me and I’m looking forward to working with so many great partners here.
I’m excited to kick this off and get started! I know it’s been a long time coming. But we’re here, and we’re ready to serve youth.”
– Charese, Director of Early Intervention & Specialized Services
The Youth Resource Center would be possible without the tireless advocacy of the community and the generous support of many individuals and organizations. Special thanks to:
- King County Council and the Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy
- City of Lake Forest Park
- Rotary Club of Lake Forest Park
- North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA)
- Rotary Club of Shoreline
- City of Shoreline
- Shoreline School District
- Shoreline Youth and Teen Development Center
- Dunn Lumber – Shoreline
- Mallory Paints
- Real Escape from the Sex Trades (REST)
- Rod Dembowski, King County Councilmember
- Alex Rodriguez Daze, Phoenix Construction, Inc.
- Ben Warner, 3rd Generation Flooring
- Dave Halbrook, Halbrook Painting
- George Piano, Chair, Lake Forest Park Rotary Homeless Youth Project
- Heidi Shepherd, Chair of NUHSA and Chair of Lake Forest Park Rotary Youth Services Committee
- Josh Piano
- Jesse Piano, Phoenix Construction, Inc.
- Mark Phillips, Lake Forest Park City Council Member and member of Lake Forest Park Rotary Homeless Youth Project
- Nick Winnem, Dunn Lumber
- Uli Rodriguez Daze, Phoenix Construction, Inc.
Make sure you stay tuned for a grand opening and virtual ribbon cutting in March!