Group pushes plan to end youth homelessness in Duluth

By KBJR News 1

March 12, 2014 Updated Mar 12, 2014 at 11:25 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Michael McCusky knows what it's like to be vulnerable and homeless.

"It's kinda hard when you're in a tent on the side of the road. You haven't graduated high school, no job prospects, no vehicle, just lonely by yourself," said Michael McCuskey with LSS Renaissance.

On any given night in Duluth, up to 150 youth are without a home facing problems McCuskey was able to overcome, thanks to LSS programs.

The new Center for Changing Lives is expected to help 600 youth each year get the help they need.

"There are a lot of youth who are not accessing what we have because they do fall through the cracks in between places," said Lynn Gerlach with LSS Renaissance.

Lutheran Social Service has already secured about $1 million to build the 10.5 million dollar center on Superior Street in Duluth's east Hillside.

"It's so important to us to be visible in the community, just so that they know where we are and we can get to them before problems get more severe," Linnea Stephan, with Lutheran Social Service.

The center will include 10 short term stay bedrooms and 10 longer term apartments.

Counseling, education, and health care services currently spread across Duluth, will now be in the same place.

"That was very intimidating, was go out, venture out into Duluth and find those services, which now might be in the same building," said McCuskey.

If housing Infrastructure bonds are authorized this legislative session, LSS plans to apply for $3.5 million to help with building costs.

If the funds are awarded, construction could begin as early as this fall.

"We can continue helping the kids we are helping, and helping more of them," said McCuskey.

According to LSS, 92% of homeless youth who receive services from their programs report that they do not experience homelessness again.

Jennifer Walch
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