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Loon said the new shelter will be modeled after Avenues, a three-story building with 21 beds and several staff to counsel residents and help them find jobs and housing. Youth can stay up to 18 months, and a full-time aftercare worker helps them after they leave, she said.
When residents get a job, a “rent savings plan” is set up and they must deposit 30 percent of their pay in the account, Loon said. Their savings go toward the deposit and other expenses for their first apartment.
“We address any trauma and medical needs and get them to a place where they can live safely in an apartment,” Loon said. “The kids all share in the chores. They sweep and clean the bathrooms and do their own laundry.”
One former Avenues client is 21-year-old Winni, who asked that her last name not be used. She said relatives brought her here at age 8 from Liberia. She had disagreements with her aunt and ran away at 18. She spent more than a year at Avenues and eventually got a cashier’s job at Sears. She saved enough to move out about two years ago.
“Then I got my place,” she said, flashing bright eyes and a matching smile. “Now I am a shift supervisor at CVS,” she said. Last fall she earned her high school diploma and hopes to go to college to become a nurse.
At Avenues, “I learned a lot of life skills. … I was young and didn’t understand about getting along with people,” Winni said. “We are all hurt. And hurt people hurt other people.
“I also learned that school was really, really important.”
Jim Adams • 612-673-7658