By  Miriam Aliberti

Every night, hundreds of youth find themselves on the street with no place to sleep and no idea how to change their situation. That’s where UMOM New Day Centers is making a difference. Director of Youth Shelters, Kenneth McKinley spoke with me to explain some of the amazing ways UMOM is helping to prevent and end homelessness.

Q: What does UMOM do?

A: UMOM provides safe shelter and supportive services for hundreds of homeless youth across the valley. The goal is to assist people with a safe place to sleep first, then help out with the barriers that caused them to be homeless in the first place.

Q:  What kind of programs does UMOM have for youth and young adults seeking help?

A: UMOM has several programs available to guide teens and youth into safe housing, but they also have many helpful programs and services that can help with finding more permanent solutions to homelessness.

There are many reasons why teens and young people can become homeless including:

  • Escaping violence
  • Suffering due to substance abuse of their own or by a parent
  • Rejected because of gender identity
  • Aging out of the foster care system.

Everyone’s situation is different. Once a youth arrives at a UMOM shelter, they will work with a housing specialist to determine how their specific needs can be addressed. UMOM case workers will assess and build on individual strengths matching clients to services that will help them address and overcome their specific barriers to permanent, stable housing.

UMOM wants to help youth get out of their crisis situation and also help them to overcome the challenges that lead to homelessness in the first place. Here are a few of the programs available to help young people find shelter and help:

Youth Shelters: Open Hands and the Young Adult Independent Living Program (ages 12 to 17) 

UMOM offers hope by providing a safe place to stay. Youth can get the help they need to learn to feel safe again, finish high school, look for a job or learn how to use public transportation. More importantly, they can make friends and have fun along the way. Case Managers and Counselors are available to help. 

Open Hands Emergency Shelter (ages 12 – 17) 

This is a home-like emergency shelter in Phoenix where teens can get help if they experiencing homelessness, family conflict or abuse. Open Hands offers individual and family counseling with getting families back together as the goal. People who are not able to safely go home may stay longer and receive life skills and workforce training.

Young Adult Independent Living Program – Transitional Independent Living (ages 16 – 18) 

This program offers transitional housing to youth who have no viable family support such as youth coming from foster care or other situations where an individual lacks the support of a family. This program offers help with case management, counseling, group support and, most importantly, housing.

Youth Resource Center

Young adults aged 18-24 can walk in and find a safe place to eat and shower, as well as access educational and employment resources, and connect to a team of specialists who can assist them to end their housing crisis.

Job training and placement 

UMOM’s Workforce Development Team provides job services individually designed to connect people with employment, education, training, and job placement support.

Q:  How can someone get help if they need it?

A:  For 24-hour help, please call 1-800-631-1314.

Safe Place

Safe Place is a national program for young people under 18 who need immediate help and safety. Any young person in trouble can head straight to a designated Safe Place like QT convenience stores or Valley Metro bus stops for help or reach out via a 24-hour help line, 602-841-5799.

Youth can also TXT 4 HELP by texting the word SAFE and your current location to 69866 for immediate help.

For more about UMOM:

www.umom.org