Youth Haven, a new home for youth in crisis, opened last week in Kirkland. It provides temporary emergency housing for youth ages 11 to 17.
Terry Pottmeyer, chief executive officer of Friends of Youth, said the shelter’s primary goal is to keep youth safe, since those who run away or end up on the street are vulnerable to exploitation or other dangers.
“We want to make sure that a young person never faces that situation — that they have a safe place where someone can take them in and figure out what’s next,” Pottmeyer said.
Within 24 hours of entering the facility, youth meet with a therapeutic case manager who helps them address their situations and make plans. Youth typically remain for about a month, attending school and participating in recreational activities while live-in staff members provide supervision and guidance.
“We try to make it just as much like a home environment as possible,” Pottmeyer said. “We want the home to feel very warm and welcoming.”
With current funding, the home can support five boys and five girls, but the home is flexibly designed to accommodate 17 youth if more funding is obtained.
Youth also had a hand in building the new home. Through YouthCare’s YouthBuild program, about 10 young people ages 16 to 24 were part of the construction team, training, learning leadership skills and working towards their industry certification.
The home, which consolidates the agency’s Kenmore and Bellevue locations, was funded in part by state and county grants. It was built on Friends of Youth’s two-acre Kirkland campus, which the agency acquired in 2011.
A new youth service center that serves as administrative headquarters was completed in April, and the next phase is the addition of four transitional housing facilities for young adults.