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Friends of Youth celebrates new homes in Kirkland with local elected officials
As First Lady Trudi Inslee addressed the crowd at a Friends of Youth event, she called on legislators, who were also present, to get more organizations like Friend of Youth implemented statewide.
“Jay and I, and the whole state, would love to have these well beyond King County,” she said. “So legislators, we need to get this all over the state.”
Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen, and Rep. Roger Goodman were there to support and congratulate the nonprofit’s most recent success in completing the construction of two new homes for homeless youth and the ground breaking of two more new homes for foster care youth on April 17.
Sen. Andy Hill, Rep. Larry Springer and Rep. Ross Hunter also made an appearance to congratulate the nonprofit organization.
The Kirkland-based organization celebrated a ribbon cutting for two houses for 10 homeless teens and young adults ages 16-22 years old. It’s set to open in June. And there was a ground breaking for two extended foster care homes that will also house 10 young adults, ages 18-22. It will be complete in early fall.
Friends of Youth CEO and President Terry Pottmeyer said the occupants will be chosen through the King County coordinated entry system where they’re interviewed and matched with housing. She said there have been no decisions if the completed homes will have a mix of young women and men each living together or if they’ll divide the occupants based on gender.
“Families are human and families are frail and sometimes they are not able to provide an atmosphere where the children can thrive and sometimes not even survive,” said Walen at the event. “It’s especially meaningful to me the work that’s done by Friends of Youth and I am just honored and privileged they chose to put their home in Kirkland.”
Pottmeyer said while the ribbon cutting/groundbreaking doesn’t satisfy their vision, which is that every youth should have every opportunity to succeed, it does make them one step closer.
“Since June 2012, we’ve been on a journey to raise funds, raise awareness and raise some roofs, seven to be exact, to achieve and fulfill our vision for youth on the Eastside,” Pottmeyer said, adding that although they have more than 85 units of transitional housing being used, there’s still more than 200 people on the waiting list.
Within the last two years Friends of Youth has opened their Redmond Youth Service Center, their Youth Haven home and headquarters, which provides case management, employment and mental health support. Both are located in Kirkland.
Pottmeyer said the construction cost on the projects done in the last few years was within a $6.8 million budget. The funds were acquired through their Capital Campaign, which had a mix of public grants and individual donations. The four houses in Kirkland cost about $2 million total or $500,000 per house.
Legislators and Friends of Youth also celebrated legislation recently passed that allows foster care youth age 18-21 to stay in the foster care system as long as they work toward post secondary education, such as college, job training or for those who are working full time.
“I have a first grader and a fifth grader and they’re healthy and they’re safe,” said Goodman, who sponsored the foster care bill. “And they’re gorgeous and athletic and popular but I can’t imagine at age 18 kicking them out into the street and that’s what’s happening for too many kids who are vulnerable from unstable homes.”
Goodman cited a study of three foster care programs in three different states and said although the ones who provided care until age 18 were “richly endowed programs” the one that had the best outcome, even with a “crappy program” was a system that served foster care youth until they were 21.
“Imagine those key years between 18-21 and having to be homeless, and as Dow [Constantine] said, 40 percent of kids who exit foster care at age 18 end up homeless,” Goodman said, adding that budget chairs Hill and Hunter should be thanked for providing the funds for the expanded program.
For more information, visit www.friendsofyouth.org.