A Minneapolis nonprofit serving homeless youth will begin a $700,000 makeover of two of its shelters this summer, capping a multiyear effort that invited shelter residents into the design process.

The Bridge for Youth provides support services and temporary housing for teens and young parents. Its two emergency shelters, Resilience House and Gloria's Place, share a building at 1111 W. 22nd St. in Minneapolis. The first phase of demolition is underway, and renovations are set to begin in the coming weeks.

Resilience House provides 24-hour shelter, case management, food and health care for youths ages 10-17. Gloria's Place is the only emergency shelter in Minnesota for pregnant teens and teen parents ages 15-17; it has space for up to six families.

According to the agency, 50% of young people experiencing homelessness in Hennepin County are pregnant or have children.

The building was purchased and first renovated nearly 16 years ago, Executive Director Lisa Mears said. Since then, it has been "feeling fatigued," she said. This summer's renovations will include new flooring, paint and furniture.

Another major reason for the renovation was to incorporate design feedback from current and former shelter residents. The designs are aimed to create spaces "where youth can heal and feel safe" from personal traumatic experiences, Mears said.

In 2021, three Dunwoody College students were brought onto the project to craft designs that would inspire the renovations. Carissa Friendshuh, Marco Salazar and Austin Rastall were fifth-year architecture students who spent about a year working on designs. They interviewed shelter residents, did research and toured the facility.

The students worked to make the facility feel more open and comfortable. Their designs were intentional about lighting, colors and having nooks tucked away for privacy within shared spaces.

"You want to be in a space that's inviting, that feels safe, that feels secure, but also you're able to get some freedom in it," Rastall said. That concept was carried throughout the design decisions, he added.

Salazar said working on the project was a "full circle" moment because his sister was a shelter resident several years ago.

The Legislature last year provided $500,000 for the renovations, and the Bridge added $200,000.

The nonprofit this year campaigned unsuccessfully at the Capitol for $3.5 million to add 15 transitional housing units to a current facility, Marlene's Place, and 24 non-time limited supportive housing units at a new site. Mears said Bridge officials are discussing their next steps.

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