• Gov. Inslee wants to bolster homeless youth services

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    Governor Inslee wants to add $4 million to the state budget to help homeless young people.

    Angel Gardner was homeless as a teenager.

    "Alcohol, heroin, meth. You know there's a lot of serious things on the streets," she said.

    Now, at 20-years-old, Gardner visited the Governor's Office to support a new plan to help the 13,000 people in the state ages 12-to-24 who have no place to call home.

    "To give struggling youth a chance at normalcy and to work toward ending youth homelessness so that it won't even be a concern in the future."

    Governor Jay Inslee is directing agencies to work together to solve the problem. Inslee’s plan has three immediate goals: help kids find a safe stable place to go after leaving foster care or the juvenile justice system, improve education and employment options and invest in family crisis intervention.

    "Instead of studying for tomorrow's test, they're worrying about where they will sleep tonight, or if the place they're crashing today will be an option tomorrow,” said Kim Justice, of the state’s Office of Homeless Youth.

    "A lot of what we do in this space is create an environment where they can at least feel safer, or safe enough to possibly make a connection with us,” said Keylee Marineau, of Community Youth Services

    Marineau is in charge of Rosie's Place, a homeless youth drop-in center in Olympia. Street kids can come there to relax in a safe environment, wash their clothes, get new shoes and get access to computers. They can connect with social services that can lead to education, employment and housing.

    Angel Gardner knows it works, saying, "You want to make sure you're progressing as a human being and as a working member of your society. So that's what I want to see, people actually being able to reach their goals. All of them."

    In addition to the $4 million the Governor is seeking, Legislators are pushing for a comprehensive bill to address youth homelessness this year.

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