Fairbanks Non-Profits Team Up to Start Homeless Youth Shelter

Two Fairbanks non-profit groups are teaming up to start a youth homeless shelter.  Fairbanks Youth Advocates, which has been spearheading the project, is handing it over to the more experienced Fairbanks Rescue Mission.  The short term shelter for homeless teens will be run out of a downtown building owned by Fairbanks Youth Advocates.  Youth Advocates Director Mary Lee Bates told the Fairbanks City council Monday that the arrangement will help her fledgling organization grow the new service.

The two groups came before the council to urge the city to apply for a federal grant to renovate the shelter building, an empty tri-plex in need of major repairs.  Rescue Mission Director Rodney Gaskins said the Youth Homeless shelter operations can be incorporated into his organization’s budget.   

The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing application for the $750,000 Community Development Block grant for the homeless youth shelter building renovation. Some council members had earlier expressed concerns about the city having to pay back the grant if the shelter fails to operate for a required five years.  Under the new arrangement, the Rescue Mission takes on that liability. Councilwoman Vivian Stiver said her concerns have been allayed.

The city will hear back in March whether the homeless youth shelter renovation is funded.  It has to compete against grant projects proposed by other communities around the state. Estimates put Fairbanks homeless youth population at about 800 kids.  The new shelter is designed to provide them short term care and counseling with the aim of re-uniting them with family.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.