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Shelter for homeless young adults at base of Capitol Hill set to close

(Image: YouthCare)

(Image: YouthCare)

Homeless kids, gutter punks, campers — whatever you want to call them, there are changes coming for the street youth who spend their time in the central city and on Capitol Hill. Last week, CHS reported on a new director, new home and new direction for longtime Capitol Hill homeless youth service Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets. Now comes word that YouthCare is faced with closing its overnight shelter inside the James W. Ray Orion Center at the base of Capitol Hill on Denny Way:

YouthCare’s shelter, which served 268 young adults last year, needs $350,00 in order to keep its nightly facility open into the new year.

YouthCare says funding for the shelter from a private grant powered by the estate of the late James Widener Ray was part of a significant five-year program of support that was slated to wrap up in 2013. Five years ago, the estate’s Raynier Institute granted YouthCare funding to allow the organization to own the center outright and operate its programs including the shelter through this year.

Meanwhile, Raynier’s giving in the community continues to evolve. Earlier this year, Raynier announced a $1.1 million gift supporting the Frye Art Museum. In 2010, CHS wrote about the foundation as it began to put its $80-million financial clout to work and Jim Ray, the Capitol Hill character who put his fortune behind the organization before his death in 2005. From 1994 to 2012, the organization says it provided nearly $18 million in grants including $10.6 million to human services organizations.

At YouthCare, the organization has been forced to abandon its efforts to transition funding of the shelter after Raynier’s program ended when other sources were unexpectedly cut. In a letter from the executive director, the organization details more expected shortfalls including the loss of a federal grant for its programs. “Given the critical role that outreach and drop-in services serve in our community, we must prioritize maintaining our outreach and drop-in services at full capacity before funding the Young Adult Shelter,” Melinda Giovengo writes. “It is our hope to be able to provide both vital services, and we are exploring every avenue that might allow for that outcome.”

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24 thoughts on “Shelter for homeless young adults at base of Capitol Hill set to close

    • How sad for you and the rest of us, that the difficult circumstances others must face draws this response.
      This is a worthy cause that I hope succeeds in raising the funds to keep the shelter open.

    • Sojohnative, for the record I support keeping the night shelter open, but if it does indeed close then there will be negative consequences for our neighborhood, as I mentioned.

      If I read the report correctly, it is only the night shelter which is closing, not the Orion Center itself….the day programs will continue.

  1. I don’t understand this hatred of the poor and downtrodden that the comments are already starting to draw, as I was sure they would. Can someone in America’s Smartest City explain it to me?

    • How is this America’s smartest city if we leave it up to private charities to take care of our homeless? Dumb dumb dumb.

    • I think this is where having an ineffective police force comes into play. It is difficult to feel empathy for these kids when you are being followed home, harassed, or screamed at randomly by them on a daily basis. And the public perception right now is that their rights to behave like this toward others supercedes the rights of the people to be unafraid to walk in their own neighborhoods (a fear that is legitimized by the number of gun point robberies and attacks in the neighborhood that you now read about on a daily basis). I have called the cops more than once on these kids and they just don’t bother to show up. If the police were doing more to address the problems of the groups (because yes, there are many kids who are truly in dire situations and do not pose a public safety issue to anyone), the amount of vitriol toward the homeless might subside.

      • I couldn’t agree more. I’m the kind of person who donates a significant portion of my money to charity, but i wont be donating to the Orion Center’s half-measure shelter. I’ve been the one clad in orage adopt-a-street vest responsible for picking up litter created by these specific youths hanging out while the center is not open. I’ve called the police more times on these youths than for any other reasons combined and have never once seen police response – even when one of them was walking up and down Denny cracking a 10-foot long whip for hours in the night. The city seems to be encouraging them to camp out under the Denny overpass during the day and that has attracted adult homeless to the area (see the mattress and tent illegally set up permanently along Melrose? It’s not the first one.) I’m the person who cleans up this mess when they leave and the biohazard needle box is always full by the time I’m finished. This makes me feel insecure about the investment I’ve made in the community. If the shelter were open day and night, or if police presence was clear, my mind might have changed about donating to the center.

  2. That’s over $1300 per kid. That would give them over 30 days of motel rooms on aurora. If they are under 18 the charge should be taken from their parents how do half of these punks expect to ever get a job covered in tattoos and facial pircings and where did they get money for those

    • Or perhaps we should take it out of your paycheck for being OK with a society that fails to protect its most vulnerable members.

      • I go to work everyday. I earn a paycheck and pay my bills. I didn’t cover my face in tattoos to make myself unemployable (how do they afford those, anyway?!). I know quite a few people who came to this country with zero English-language skills, and yet they manage to make a living and contribute to society. These kids grew up with every opportunity – predominately white, middle-class, in the wealthiest country in the world. Why the hell should one cent of MY paycheck go to them, when they threw every opportunity out the window? (P.S. – I volunteered for years at a youth homeless shelter. Gave it up when I finally realized what a bunch of sniveling, lazy whiners most of these kids are).

  3. What!? No more shirtless fights to watch while I sit at the Denny traffic lights?? But srsly folks, terrible and shitty news, but thank fuck people with housing and food can still go to the Frye, amiright?

  4. Good. I work near the shelter and it attracts the absolute worst in street kids – reckless contrarian scum. Screw working for a living, but please wear a fuzzy tail and harass pedestrians – that is far more acceptable. During the day they love to sully the Denny overpass over Eastlake, and pretty much any alcove or sheltered area for a couple-block radius.

  5. It would nice to see these empty buildings turned into shelters for the needy. These teenagers need direction. Give them some direction. Hanging outside encouraging them to just be themselves is not good advice. Tell them to get cleaned up dress up stop applying for food stamps to something with their life and at times stop holding there hands. Give them soap a towel clothes shoes and direction. There is so much money around in Seattle. Use what we have and paint that damn building a different countries lot. Sick of looking Stopoverty. I am broke just like them I am 57 years old. I would give my all to help these kids if I could. Have a son who stayed at a shelter and had a bed to lsy in. Found out hanging on a street corner did him no good.

  6. What compassion there is in human kind. Kids with mental illness and drug addiction with no homes, no families to help being belittled by those who do not share their suffering. I’m sorry you were yelled at, that you don’t like the mess. I’m sure their lives are exactly what they wanted them to be, too.

    Since this happens everywhere and to anyone, maybe we should look at a greater context and examine our priorities as a society. Should it be building more sports arenas and gentrifying lower-class neighborhoods so Starbucks has a safe place to sell their wares? Finding more places to hide the poor so we don’t have to look at them?

    This country is looking and smelling more and more like 18th century France all the time.

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  9. In 1986 the orion center saved my life. I played Riff in the centers theater programs production of WEST SIDE STORY. It gave me a place to find shelter,food
    Medical help. I owe my life to Bob Manning.he saved me from the streets. I often think of where everyone that came threw thoughs doors were would we be now without having the Orion Center back in 1986. I was an abandoned child with nowhere to go. I’m now married 25 years three grown daughters. Retired disabled IRAQ WAR VETERAN. WHO WAS ALSO AT ONE TIME A TOURING NATIONAL RECORDING ARTIST. Thank you Orion Center. You will not close if I can do something about it.