State grants will help Yakima County expand homeless youth services

State grants will help Yakima County expand homeless youth services

The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Office of Homeless Youth recently awarded $11 million in grants to 30 Washington counties. These funds will enable communities across the state to respond to more young people in need of stable housing and support.

Three Yakima County non-profits working to combat youth homelessness were awarded money from state. The Anchor Community Initiative aims to end youth homelessness by 2022 in Spokane, Walla Walla, Yakima and Pierce counties.

Rod’s House in Yakima is a drop-in resource center for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in Yakima County. The state recently awarded the non-profit over $500,000 to expand its services over the next two years.

The executive director at Rod’s House, Josh Jackson, said the grant money will go toward their outreach program. He said they will hire a couple of young adults who have experienced homelessness to join the outreach team. “Literally young people helping young people,” said Jackson. That team will go out across the county to help youth and young adults who can’t come all the way to Rod’s House.

Jackson said they will also take on an extreme winter weather project for young adults. He said the shelter has been led by the Homeless Network for the past two years. It will be open from November until March, and he said they are working on making that shelter sustainable year-round.

“We’re really thrilled that almost every county in the state is going to have services for young people that are experiencing homelessness for the first time ever,” said Jackson. “With this state movement we really think we’re working toward ending youth homelessness not just managing it. Not just dealing with it. So we’re part of something big.”

Rod’s House is open Monday though Saturday and serves youth and young adults age 13 to 24.

It provides meals, clothes and personal hygiene items to those who need them. The house also serves as a support netwok for youth and young adults. It has an employment and education readiness program that helps youth graduate, become work-ready and find and keep meaningful employment.

Jackson said they are on track to serve 400 unique young people this year.

Catholic Charities of Yakima and Yakima Neighborhood Health Services also received funding from the Office of Homeless Youth.