Young People Matter (YPM) operates the city’s only emergency youth shelter for girls under 18
Atlanta, GA (BlackNews.com) — Young People Matter’s (YPM) teen shelter, the Open Hearts Youth Center, is in danger of closing if it is not re-funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the end of the month.
YPM is the only youth shelter in the Atlanta metro area where unaccompanied teens, both male and female, can take refuge anytime day or night. YPM operates the only 24-hour shelter in the entire Atlanta metro area for girls under 18, including victims of sex trafficking. YPM is the only youth shelter in Atlanta which provides emergency beds for LGBTQ youth under 18.
“They may not be on the general public’s radar, but homeless, runaway and sexually-exploited youth, is a rising epidemic not just across America, but right at our front door in Atlanta,” said Simone Joye, the nonprofit leader who founded YPM in 2007 and this year received a Special Congressional Recognition and the Atlanta Hawks/United Way Be Greater Atlanta award for her leadership.
In 2011, YPM made history after being awarded a three-year $580,000 HHS grant to open the Center in DeKalb County. Federal funding accounts for 80% of the shelter’s budget-which was $224,336 in 2013. YPM leaders fear that funding may end on September 30th. YPM’s leaders are trying to raise an additional $45,000 to make it through the end of the year while they work on replacing the funding gap.
Since June, AT&T employees have committed nearly $25,000 in contributions and volunteer services, which included building a state-of-the art computer lab and upgrading the center’s bedrooms. Oracle, Inc. has donated $5,000 this year. Last year, the United Way of Greater Atlanta awarded YPM $10,000 in emergency shelter funds and Dollar General has provided $3,500 to help with literacy programming. For the second year in a row, Wells Fargo will award YPM a $1,000 Community Partner Award.
“We are fighting for teens who we know are sleeping in Atlanta’s bus stations, on the trains, in parks, cars, abandoned houses, and are being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and want help. They are victims of generational family trauma and the worst possible human neglect there is. Some kids are forced out of their homes simply for being gay. Their childhoods are being stolen and we know they are out there sleeping in dangerous places. We do not even let dogs and cats stray in the streets, why should Atlanta’s children? To have to close our doors on them would be tragic,” states Joye.
The Center has seven beds and a staff of ten. Since opening in early 2012, YPM has served 2,065 teens and young adults with residential and emergency non-residential services including suicide prevention, mental/behavior health counseling, educational support, access to employment, hot meals, clothing and recreational activities. YPM also created Atlantas first 24-hour youth emergency call/text hotline.
“Our main purpose is not simply providing critical shelter, but to help teens with long-term survival skills. Lessons are learned on hygiene, cooking, cleaning, budgeting and more. Teens learn to stand up on their own two feet and they are safe,” stated Andrew Bostic, MBA, YPM’s Board President.
About Young People Matter (YPM)
Founded in 2007, YPM works to end teen homelessness and equipping young people with the tools necessary for them to go successfully into adulthood. To inspire. All kids are entitled to a great childhood. We give hope because young people truly matter. “No child should forced to live on the streets in Atlanta if they don’t want to.”