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The PLACE new drop-in center now open for homeless youth

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- 'ThePLACE' a non-profit organization that helps homeless youth in the community, has now permanently opened the doors to the daytime drop-in center for unsheltered youth in Colorado Springs.

Across El Paso County, in just the last month the non-profit tells me they saw about 189 teens living in the streets.

The city says it's a growing issue in our community and a drop-in center can be a huge help. With the winter season looming in, it's a good time for a drop-in center like this to open.

"It's a crucial time with the weather changing, having a day center open, we will be here from 9-5 for at least a while, a young person can get off the street warm up, get a cup of soup, connect with a safe adult," said Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of thePLACE.

But the center offers more than that. It will serve as a place where unsheltered youth can have access to a mental health clinician, the necessary resources to sign up for school, look for jobs, and get connected with housing.

"This space plays a vital role, I think of it as we are disrupting the dis-belonging that youth experience every hour of the day, they can come in here and belong somewhere and start to create a better life for themselves," said Kemppainen.

In the past year, The PLACE saw more than six-hundred youth living in the streets, about twice as much as the previous year.

"There's a very large need to help youth in our community get services in housing and we are really lucky to have a non-profit like the place serving our community," added Andy Phelps, homeless response coordinator for the city of Colorado Springs.

Just this year 'the non-profit was able to help 185 youth exit homelessness, while helping 150 through their housing program.

"I am the one who writes those rent checks and now they are $1,000 and eleven-hundred dollars, that is really hard to come up with if you are someone trying to get off the street, whatever the reason we know youth can come around if an adult can help them," added Kemppainen.

The PLACE's daytime drop-in center hopes to become that sprinkle of hope for those experiencing youth homelessness in our community.

The drop-in center is located on 2708 E. Fountain Boulevard and is now open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Jasmine Arenas


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