DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There is new hope for homeless teens in Dallas.
The Fannie C. Harris Youth Center is set to open in two weeks as a “drop in” center, bringing a never before tried holistic approach to providing services to homeless teens.
It’s located just behind Fair Park in the old Fannie Harris Elementary building at 4212 E. Grand.
“The level of need for those living out in the elements under a bridge, these cold days,” says Jorge Baldor with After8toEducate. “They have nowhere else to go. And that’s their reality every single day.”
Baldor is the entrepreneur and visionary behind After8toEducate, bringing together local stakeholders like DISD, Promise House and CitySquare to provide a full slate of services to homeless teens in one place.
According to DISD staffers, there are approximately 4,000 homeless students still attending classes.
“This is phenomenal,” says Jamie Sandoval with Dallas ISD. Sandoval oversees homeless education services for the district and says the new youth center will support teens who are managing to stay in school, and will be a beacon for those who have dropped out.
“There are 500 youth that are out in the city, that are not in school,” says Sandoval. “This center will help draw them in.” He adds that homelessness is a cycle that will not end, without the kind of support that the center will provide.
Students accessing the center will find educational and emotional support. But, they will also be able to meet practical needs like showers, laundry and a kitchen. And that’s just phase one.
Next year, organizers plan to open an emergency shelter and transitional housing space in an adjacent wing, but they still need to raise about $1 million to complete the renovation.
“Every day that this isn’t complete, is another day that they’re out in the cold,” says Baldor.