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New shelter opens to homeless teens

The public is invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for a new shelter for homeless teens.

The Boys and Girls Aid Society is launching its new Safe Place for Youth program to provide homeless and runaway youth ages 14 to 17 with short-term shelter and support services necessary to help them regain stability.

The 18-bed facility is located in downtown Hillsboro near the light-rail line at 454 S.E. Washington St.

Community members will have the opportunity to tour the new shelter from 1 to 4 p.m., following a ceremony at 11 a.m.

The Safe Place for Youth facility is the first shelter of its kind in Washington County and will work closely with the agency's foster care program and other services for youth, said Michael Balter, executive director for The Boys and Girls Aid Society.

'We hope to improve the lives of 456 youth per year from neighboring communities, where the youth homeless rate has significantly increased this past year,' Balter said. 'We haven't given up on them.

'Under the guidance of caring adults, these young people are capable of creating plans for their lives with good outcomes.'

The shelter will become 'home' to teenagers who have separated from their parents or guardians due to difficult or dangerous situations.

These teens will be able to stay in the shelter for up to 120 days while they work on creating a plan to find a safe place to live with caring adults.

As part of the program, teens will also have around-the-clock access to food, clothing, showers and bedrooms, as well as positive role models, life skill building activities, transportation and support to stay in school.

The shelter is expected to open its doors to teens beginning in the second week of April.

'We are thrilled to be able to help this growing, vulnerable population of youth,' Balter said. 'But we couldn't have done it without the generous community support, our donors or Lease Crutcher Lewis.'

Lease Crutcher Lewis, who served as the general contractor on this $1.3 million project, provided $50,000 in professional services, labor and materials.

They also secured an additional $50,000 in donations from subcontractors and suppliers for virtually every aspect of the project, Balter said.

The facility design includes sleeping rooms, recreation space, offices and meeting rooms.

It will be staffed by a program supervisor, case managers and 24-hour adult monitors who will keep tabs on all youth staying in the facility and coordinate arrivals of teens in crisis care.