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Plans for youth shelter moving forward

by admin admin
The property at 9290 Hurlock Avenue near the intersection of Egan Drive and Mendenhall Loop Road was vacant Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, but a group of nonprofit organizations are partnering to turn the site into a youth homeless center. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee voted unanimously Wednesday evening to draft an ordinance allocating funding to the project. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

The plan to create a youth shelter on Hurlock Avenue took a step closer to fruition Monday night.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee gave direction to create an ordinance that will establish and operate a youth homelessness program and contribute $89,000 of the approximately $634,000 operating budget for the fiscal year 2021.

CBJ City Manager Rorie Watt said that the assembly had previously passed ordinances to authorize the manager to secure the property and one to enter into a lease agreement. This ordinance is a request to secure funding and complete the appropriation needed to operate.

City considers proposed youth homeless center

“I appreciate their efforts,” said Beth Weldon, CBJ mayor.

She noted that efforts continue to find funding sources that would ultimately reduce the cost to the city.

The shelter is a partnership among the Zach Gordon Youth Center and the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority.

The proposed project would provide temporary sheltering services for minors aged 10 to 18 until family reunification, foster care or other placement services are in place. Rapid rehousing services would be available for those between the ages of 18 and 20.

For over a year, Juneau has been without an emergency shelter for the 125 to 150 homeless youth and runaways the city sees in an average year, according to a project proposal from the housing authority and youth center.

Over 50% of homeless youth are teens, according to a presentation shared with the committee, which noted that the problem is increasing, has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is the top priority of the Juneau Coalition on Housing and Homelessness.

The youth participated in choosing the shelter’s new name.

Introducing the name Shéiyi X̱aat Hít (Spruce Root House), which is the selected name of a youth home in Juneau, Alaska. The name is in Lingít, and this video introduces the name and some foundational cultural concepts behind the name’s selection.