Sacramento teen shelter reopens for now

County, Goodwill Industries rally to help Wind Youth Services

The region’s only emergency shelter for homeless adolescents is back open but not out of the woods just yet.

Wind Youth Services temporarily reopened its six-bed shelter on March 10, nearly three weeks after a ballooning deficit forced it to unexpectedly halt operations.

The shelter is the only one of its kind in the five-county Sacramento region, serving unaccompanied homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 18. It typically has a waiting list, its operators say. The shelter has hosted approximately 200 youth over the past two years, but shut its doors February 19 due to an annual deficit in the $80,000 range.

Three weeks later, the adolescent shelter underwent a “soft reopening” with a skeleton staff, thanks to a $10,000 seed donation from Goodwill Sacramento Valley & Northern Nevada and an additional $5,500 from individual donors, said Wind Executive Director Suzi Dotson.

But it will cost $100,000 more to keep the doors open until the end of the year, she added.

Efforts are underway to raise that money.

The county Department of Human Assistance has requested approval to make a onetime payment of $50,000—and possibly as much as $75,000—to keep the shelter open “and provide more capacity to service homeless youth,” a DHA staff report states.

The recommendation was part of a series of proposed budget adjustments that could steer a total of $2.2 million to juvenile court, human assistance, correctional health and other programs.

A vote by the board of supervisors was scheduled to occur after print deadline on Tuesday. But a fundraiser set for the airwaves next week portended a positive outcome. On March 29, Supervisor Phil Serna and a Goodwill Industries representative are expected to appear on Good Day Sacramento’s morning show to publicize Goodwill’s ongoing efforts to match outside donations, like it did during a fundraiser at Badlands last week.

The county also helps Wind subsidize the cost of running two other 6-bed shelters for transition-age youth (between 18 and 24), providing a total of 18 shelter beds for all the region’s homeless youths.

News of the closure, broken by SN&R, initially caught city and county officials by surprise.