ST. PAUL, Minn. - The finishing touches are being put on a new emergency youth shelter in St. Paul. The Booth Brown House will soon be open to take in teens with nowhere else to turn.
"Right now there are only 16 shelter beds for young people in Ramsey County so adding 11 beds almost doubles the capacity," said Major Arnel Ruppel.
Will that fix the problem? Not hardly. On any given night there are some 2,500 homeless teens in Minnesota, 1,300 of them in the Metro. It's a problem that isn't going away, in fact, it's only getting worse.
"Sometimes a home just isn't a safe place to be. Moms and dads don't get along together, boyfriends and girlfriends don't work out, blended families don't always work well," said Major Ruppel.
There are any number of reasons young people end up on the street. There could be violence or drug use at home, a parent or both has ended up in jail, pregnancy, mental health issues, the list goes on. The Salvation Army's Booth Brown House hopes to help those kids get back on their feet.
Young people can stay at the shelter for up to 30 days. It's a safe place to stay at night, or to get a meal and wash clothes, but the Salvation Army wants to meet more than just those basic needs.
Staff at the Booth Brown House will work with other community providers to help reunite families if possible, get kids back into school or find jobs. They will also work to get young people evaluated to meet both medical and mental health needs.
The goal is to not just band-aid the issue, but to find real solutions to stop the cycle and get young adults on the road to becoming independent adults that contribute back to the community.
The Salvation Army is in the process of hiring staff and plans to open the emergency shelter in the next few weeks. They are also looking for volunteers to do everything from tutoring to cooking a meal.
The whole project was made possible by a three year grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation, but once that ends, the program needs to be self-sufficient.
How can you help? Donations are always welcome. They always need things like bedding, toiletries and even pajamas!
To find out more, visit their website at thesalarmy.org
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