Tacoma opens homeless youth drop-in center, shelter

It's a temporary solution, but it's a start of what the city and youth services leaders hope will be something bigger.

The City of Tacoma and Community Youth Services is still looking for a building to serve as a 24-hour drop-in center for homeless youth in the city. But for now, there is a temporary solution.

Beacon Senior Center in Tacoma will open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., starting Thursday. Homeless ages 18 to 24 will be able to drop in for food and water. After 9 p.m., it will become an overnight shelter.

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"We are still looking for a permeant location for an overnight shelter. Right now, this allows for those services to be under one roof," said Pam Duncan, with City of Tacoma Human Services.

"A lot of (the youth) have been traumatized for years either in their own homes or wherever it is that they're coming from," said Scott Hanauer, CEO, Community Youth Services in Tacoma.

Hanauer said it’s hard to know just how many young people are homeless in Tacoma.

"They're pretty good at being invisible. They'll couch surf. They'll go from friend to friend."

One of them Daniel Schlein, 19, who has been homeless for eight months.

"You learn to depend on yourself more than ever I guess," Schlein said.

While city leaders hope the services will make it easier for young people, homeless youth hope it will open the doors for more spaces for people like them.

"Maybe like more day centers I guess, more places to go during the day,” said Schlein.