Volunteers of America unveiled plans last week to build a new resource center for homeless youth in Salt Lake City.
Zach Bale, chief development officer for the project, said the new 30-bed overnight shelter will serve the immediate needs of youth, but also will include services to help those being served to overcome their circumstances.
“We knew that both having a safe overnight shelter has been really important, but maybe even more important [is] expanded education and employment support for the youth,” Bale said. “We’re going to have a lot more space, classroom space, to provide those types of services.”
Bale said the facility will be unique compared to others in the state as it will serve both minors and young adults from ages 15 to 22, bridging the previous transition gap between the two groups.
Bale said the shift between teenage years and adult responsibilities are difficult for every individual; however, he said the factors compound for homeless youth.
“We see about 60 to 70 percent of youth having experienced abuse prior to their homelessness, often as a result of physical abuse done to them by an adult. So, we see a lot of youth that aren’t willing to receive services from adult service providers,” Bale said.
He said the adolescents and young adults they serve require youth-centric services.
According to Bale, homeless youth in the state typically migrate to downtown Salt Lake City.
While the new center is being funded mostly with private donations, VOA is still looking to raise about $1 million from the community to complete the project.
For more information on the project and how to help fund the new facility visit the VOA website.