MEDFORD, Ore. — With temperatures in the Rogue Valley below freezing overnight, many without a home are battling the bitter cold on the streets. Some are just children who have been abandoned, displaced, or are running away.
It’s why a local faith-based non-profit dedicated to helping homeless youth is opening a second shelter for young adults.
“I tried to go back and live with my mom… but when I got there, she didn’t even really have a place to live,” said Mary who lives at the shelter; her true identity will remain anonymous.
Oregon has the second highest rate of homelessness, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. That includes over 1,000 unaccompanied youth between the ages of 18 and 24.
“A lot of people think I have things together because I’ve hit that age… but I’m so confused,” she said.
Mary just turned 18 and is one of 16 kids living at local faith-based homeless shelter, Hearts with a Mission, dedicated to helping homeless youth get the love and support they need to better their lives.
“We want it to be a home… a temporary home for young people,” said Will Young, Shelter Coordinator at Hearts with a Mission.
Despite already having Medford and Grants Pass locations for children between the ages of 11 to 17, Young says it still wasn’t enough space.
“I think the missing piece revolves around 18 to 22,” said Young.
He says they’ve had to turn many young adults away at the door, but not anymore.
“This is the beginning of something terrific,” he said.
The organization is officially opening a new center, all made possible through donations from the community.
“When you turn 18, it’s usually you’re on your own. The worst thing about being on your own is when you have no tools,” said Young.
He says the additional space will be dedicated to helping young adults grow and develop from improving vocational skills to self-esteem.
“Sometimes a young person… 18, 19 years old… they need a mentor,” said Young.
The transitional center will provide a space for young adults who need some extra support, a home, and perhaps most of all, the kindness of someone’s heart.
“If I didn’t have this place, I’d probably just be another person outside on the streets somewhere,” Mary said.
Young says they’re hoping the center will open this August.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.
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