By Kathya Sagrero
Operation SafeHouse is working toward keeping the youth off the streets by providing shelter to the homeless youth in Riverside County.
Julie Hale, the Fund Development Director presented Operation SafeHouse to the Riverside City Council on April 27. This nonprofit organization provides emergency shelter, transitional living programs and street outreach to youth between the ages of 11-24.
“The youth homeless community is not easily found within the city,” Hale said. “A lot of our homeless youth are not necessarily living in the streets, but many are living in their cars, the gym, or living from couch to couch.”
The outreach program gives out blankets, water, clothing, food and hygiene products.
“This procedure is essential in order to build trust within the youth,” Hale said.
Hale explained the process to the Council and said that the youth who are living in the shelters are taken in by law enforcement.
“Once admitted the program begins with a 21-day program,” Hale said.
There is a safe house located in Riverside and in Thousand Palms.
“Once in the program, the shelter provides three meals, clothes and beds,” she said.
“They also provide them with services such as mental health, educational assistance, housing resources and referrals.” Hales spoke about the importance of the Transitional Living Program they offer. She gave an example to the council about a success story that they experienced in the last years.
“One day a boy who lived in our shelter for two years came by to introduce us to his wife and son,” Hale said. “He shared with us how we helped him finish an education and now works for the city of Riverside. (Now) he can provide a different life to his son than the one he had growing up.”
Transitional living is for age groups 18-21. This program provides them with education and employment assistance.
“Many of these teens are not home runaways due to being rebellious,” Hales said. “Most of them are running away because of physical abuse, sexual abuse or immediate danger.”
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