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Mobile outreach center helps pick up Twin Cities youth when they're in need of support

On "Communities that KARE," The Bridge For Youth launches a new way to provide services to children and young adults experiencing homelessness.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — You can call it a refuge on wheels. The Bridge for Youth, an emergency homeless shelter for teens and young adults, is taking its services on the road with a retrofitted bus.

"In the mobile youth outreach center, we will find basic needs like food and clothing and hygiene items," explained Executive Director Lisa Mears.

Professionals from Hennepin Healthcare will be riding along too. "They will have staff on the bus as we go out into the community, and we have a mental health team where they will also be on the bus to provide immediate support to youth who are experiencing trauma," said Mears.

The bus will also be a safe space for assessments and case management.

The pandemic put a spotlight on the need for a new form of advocacy. "Youth weren't showing up where we would traditionally find them in the community during our outreach efforts; places like schools, community centers, Boys and Girls Club."

And homelessness doesn't ebb and flow based on what's happening with the pandemic. Mears said that more than 6,000 youth experience homelessness in Minnesota every night. That's why this launch is so critical for The Bridge for Youth. "Our dream for the mobile youth outreach center is that this vehicle can be on the streets and the community every day of the week," said Mears.

The Bridge for Youth has two emergency shelters: The Resilience House is open 24/7, 365 days a year. It's for youth ages 10-17 and focuses on family reunification when safe and possible. There is also Gloria's Place. It's the only emergency shelter in the state of Minnesota specifically for unaccompanied, pregnant, or parenting youth and their children.

Need immediate help? Text (612) 400-SAFE or Call (612) 377-8800.