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Volunteers rally efforts around homeless youth complex


Kids to move into HUD grant-funded project in January

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Boys & Girls Aid President and CEO Michael Balter and Beaverton City Mayor Dennis Doyle demolish kitchen cabinets at an apartment that is being renovated for a Transitional Living Program. The program will serve Washington County youth ages 16 to 21 who are facing homelessness or unstable housing.As the old saying goes, good fences make good neighbors.

Volunteers who replaced a worn-out fence and worked last weekend on a fledgling housing complex for homeless youth are among those ready to welcome new neighbors seeking a fresh start in life.

Beaverton Mayor Dennis Doyle, city councilors and a bevy of community leaders and citizens turned out on Saturday and Sunday to help rehabilitate a building at 11855 S.W. Fifth St. The previous Thursday, the Portland-based Boys & Girls Aid Transitional Living Program held an open house to show off progress on the project, which is funded by a $493,000 Community Block Grant the city of Beaverton received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development.

The program will serve Washington County youth ages 16 to 21 who are facing homelessness or unstable housing. While living in the apartments, the youth will participate in skill building meetings to help prepare them for independent living. They’ll be required to have a job, save at least 30 percent of their income and finish their high school diploma or general equivalent diploma.

Addressing those gathered on Oct. 18, Doyle said the project fits in with the city’s long-term quality-of-life goals.

“Our need for affordable housing was identified in both our Beaverton Civic Plan and community vision (plan),” he said. “Through the strategic investment of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, the city has been able to partner with the local nonprofit, Boys & Girls Aid, to create a permanent home for the Transitional Living Program.”

Shawn Mitchell, executive director of Catalyst Partnerships, a Beaverton-based nonprofit, rounded up 40 volunteers to replace a tattered chain-link fence with a lower, more aesthetically pleasing cedar barrier in one weekend. He sees the housing project as a much-needed addition to assist area youth.by: JAIME VALDEZ - Beaverton City Councilor Marc San Soucie looks at a bedroom of an apartment renovated for the Boys & Girls Aid Transitional Living Program.

“It’s a huge problem with kids coming out of the foster system, or something similar, many of them need help when it comes to learning life skills, needing jobs,” said Mitchell, whose nonprofit is dedicated to remodeling homes for low-income families, seniors and others in need. “This sort of home is just what they need to get a fresh start and get some mentoring, learning job skills, finishing their education. This is really doing something that provides a real need in the community.”

Andrea Nelson, the city’s community development block grant coordinator, said the four apartments are on schedule for a January completion. Three of the four units will house two youths each, with the fourth providing space for an on-site manager and a community room.

“Typically, the youths would spend about 18 months in the program,” she said. “It’s not permanent housing. Before the kids graduate and transition into independent, market-rate housing, they’ll (engage in) skill building.”

The youths will learn about budgeting, grocery shopping, how to save money, “all those things that are vital to our success,” Nelson noted. “They’ll have opportunity to get those resources in place while they’re out there working and saving money. If they don’t have a GED or diploma, they’ll have to work toward that.”

The program currently operates a duplex in Hillsboro. The three residents housed there will likely move into the new Beaverton facility in early 2013, Nelson said.

Mitchell, who credits Beaverton’s Solid Rock Church and Sunrise Church with providing a chunk of volunteer manpower last weekend, said the warm look of the new cedar fence is symbolic of the project’s humanitarian mission.

“We replaced it with a wood fence that provides improved security and aesthetics,” he said of the old cyclone fence. “Now it seems much more like a home and less like an institution.”by: JAIME VALDEZ - Boys & Girls Aid President and CEO Michael Balter speaks to attendees of a open house of a new transitional home for youth in Central Beaverton.