Emergency Shelter: Never Just a Bed

Youth at YouthCare's Emergency Shelter

Emergency shelter programs offer us a chance to establish relationships and provide and coordinate services. 

Young Adult Shelter at the Orion Center

Seven nights a week, we provide safe, overnight emergency shelter for up to twenty 18-24 year olds, where they can also do their laundry, take a hot shower, and eat a meal. Beyond satisfying these basic needs, the YAS is an entry point to other services – more permanent housing options, education and employment opportunities, health care and case management.

The Adolescent Shelter

YouthCare runs the only short-term emergency shelter in Seattle for homeless youth aged 12–17. This may be the first safe place a child has entered in months. Some, thanks to our profile on the street, find us within hours. A good thing, too. As many as one in three homeless youth (of all ages) are solicited for sex within 72 hours of hitting the streets, or offered supposed help and shelter — with something else entirely in store for them. We're able to offer 12 beds: once again, far from enough. (Unaccompanied minors younger than 12 — of whom there are more than bears contemplating — are handled elsewhere in our social service systems.) When they reach us, many want only to go home; nearly a third do, but not until we work with police and other agencies and authorities to make sure it’s safe. Many shouldn't — and we find them a safe place.

Jackson Street Program

Jackson Street’s work centers around reducing the impact of homelessness for young adults currently enrolled in an educational pathway. Often times students experiencing homelessness have to make a tough choice between continuing to work toward completing their schooling or focusing on stabilizing their living situation. Jackson Street aims to support these young people in continuing their education while working with on-site case management to help identify pathways to independence and stability.

Another of Jackson Street’s guiding principles is cultural responsiveness. With primarily youth of color accessing services, we maintain a diverse staff with a variety of experience, who respond to each young person with care. Jackson Street maintains 15 beds for students. Students can remain in these beds for an extended period while working with case management.  We also understand that many young adults in south Seattle experiencing homelessness have lost connection to school and are struggling to stabilize themselves. For this reason, Jackson Street offers five emergency beds. 

Casa de los Amigos

This federally funded program provides an alternative to adult detention for undocumented youth (12–17) awaiting determination of their status. Many were brought to this country by family and had no choice in the matter. Many made that decision on their own. Many were trafficked in — perhaps to end up working in a marijuana field at the point of a gun, or in other forms of effective slavery and exploitation. Many were fleeing war zones. They come from all over the world, for different reasons and in different ways. To us, they are homeless youth, brought to us by Immigration and Customs Enforcement with next to nothing. Most now want only to be reunited with their families. Others know they will never see their families again. While they are with YouthCare, waiting for an immigration court's decision, they receive case management, medical and mental health care, education, and legal services.