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Today, Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson toured Full Cycle Bike Shop in Minneapolis, a youth-run, nonprofit bike shop that addresses homelessness by connecting youth with training, employment experience and support services to help them achieve independence.
The Department of Human Services recently awarded Full Cycle a $125,000 grant to expand its services as part of a $4 million investment by Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature last session to develop additional capacity under the Homeless Youth Act.
“Thousands of Minnesota youth are homeless on any given night and often have to jockey for a safe place to sleep because there are not enough beds or shelters to go around,” said Jesson. “This funding will not only help get more young people off the street, but will also give them the support they need to build the future they want for themselves.”
According to the most recent statewide homeless count, on any given night there are an estimated 4,000 unaccompanied homeless youth ages 21 and under in Minnesota. However, there are 108 emergency shelter beds, and about 600 units of transitional living program and permanent supportive housing available to homeless youth. There are around 30 street outreach workers for these youth at any given time and only seven homeless drop-in centers. In certain parts of the state, there are little or no youth homeless services or housing.
The $4 million appropriation is the largest since the Homeless Youth Act was adopted. With the additional resources, the state will be better able to fund a full continuum of homeless youth programming, ranging from prevention to permanent housing, to help communities meet unmet needs in their areas. The department is currently finalizing grants to approximately 30 organizations across the state to provide street outreach, drop-in centers, emergency shelter, transitional living and supportive housing programs to homeless youth.
The funding for the Homeless Youth Act came as part of a $33 million increased investment in affordable housing and homeless programming for the state.