On a cold, dark winter night, a safe and dry place to sleep is out of reach for too many of our community’s homeless youth. As of October 1, safe shelter is open to more youth each night, as YouthCare expanded the capacity of our Young Adult Shelter (YAS) from 15 to 20 beds. This expansion is thanks to funding from King County via the Veterans and Human Services Levy. Located at the James W. Ray Orion Center, this overnight shelter serves homeless youth ages 18-24. It is one of just two shelters in Seattle that serves this population.
On the streets, young people are vulnerable to the elements, and to the predators who are always on the lookout for those with few options and fewer resources. Some engage in survival sex; others may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the danger and fear of life on the streets.
A bed in our shelter is not the only solution, but it is a first step. At YAS, youth have a safe bed for the night, a chance to take a shower, eat a meal, and get a good night’s sleep. They can talk with staff to learn more about YouthCare’s other services – including transitional housing program, employment training, and mental health and chemical dependency counseling.
Over the summer, we turned away an average of six young people a night for lack of space. We are grateful to the King County Council for supporting us to open us safe shelter for five more youth each night, especially as the nights turn colder.