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HQ to open runaway, homeless youth drop-in center

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On December 1, HQ will open its doors to homeless and runaway youth ages 14-22 at 320 State Street in Heritage Hill. The drop in center will operate between the hours of 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekdays. 

Founded by Mars Hill Bible Church, the building was purchased and furnishings fronted to help the organization along the path to sustainability. HQ just received 501(c)3 status and will function as an independent nonprofit.

Arbor Circle currently operates and maintains The Bridge, the city's only youth shelter. At HQ they will be providing clinical services that include masters level therapists, case management and housing assesment referrals. Their office will be located within the HQ building. 

The facility, newly furnished and remodeled, is 5,760 square feet of space on a ground level that includes a front lobby, bathrooms and showers, locker space, laundry appliances, a lounge and dining area, kitchen, commons room with moveable furniture, computer room and two private conference rooms for members to use. Arbor Circle will occupy a space in the rear for staff and an HQ staff meeting room will anchor the southwest corner. 

Staff on hand will consist of a street outreach team that will be a visible presence in the community, meeting youth at places such as libraries and parks, spreading awareness of the resources that HQ offers.

"Our staff's role will be to meet kids where they're at. If that's what they want, then that's what we'll talk about. If they aren't ready to talk about where they're staying then we'll play a game of monopoly or we'll have a class on how to cook tacos, whatever that is," says Shandra Steininger, Executive Director. "As soon as they're ready to start talking about 'Yeah, I sleep on the floor at my cousin's house and it's not really safe,' then we'll have a place to talk about 'okay, well what are some other options.'" 

Individuals are then welcome to utilize the space, whether that means taking a shower, grabbing a sandwich, filling out a job application or just having a safe space to go. 

"The core of what we are is as safe space. One of the ways we're doing that is not hitting kids with a three hour assesment and asking them to share every detail of their life story, and all of that from the minute they come in," says Steininger.

Local police, including the Chief, were consulted about safety issues, offering guidance and support while neighbors have been approached and informed about HQ.

"We did a lot of work talking to neighbors and talking to people in the community about what HQ is and isn't," says Steininger. "We've had so much support from the businesses right around us [and] from the police. It's been great. We've had some really amazing conversations."

Some of the safety precautions that will be implemented include locked doors, window frosting for privacy, adequate staffing throughout the building and video cameras fixed to the exterior. 

Staff will complete numerous trainings focusing on verbal de-esculation, crisis management, emergency management in the community and policy development. 

 

View the full article here.