WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced $2 million over the next five years in federal funding for programs that support youth and families experiencing homelessness in Northern New Mexico. Two grants totaling $398,596 for the first year have been awarded to support the Youth Emergency Shelter and Street Outreach Programs at Youth Shelters and Family Services in Santa Fe with an anticipated total amount of $1,195,788 over the next three years. An additional first year award of $194,659 will support a combined Transitional Living Program for Youth Shelters and Family Services at DreamTree Project with an anticipated total funding of $973,295 over the next five years. The grants were awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families, which offers grants designated to promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities.
These three grants are the three major programs funded by HHS to provide services to Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY). The Basic Center Program grant will assist in operational costs to keep the Youth Emergency Shelter available for RHY and the Street Outreach Program grant supports drop-in center and street-based services for RHY in the Santa Fe area. The Transitional Living Program grant makes a combined total of 24 transitional housing beds available to youth ages 16 to 21 for up to 18 months throughout the entire northern one-third of the state of New Mexico.
"These community programs provide critical services to Northern New Mexico youth experiencing homelessness. This funding will help them expand outreach to more young people in need of a safe place to stay, and provide additional services to help them get back on their feet," Udall said. "Homelessness affects too many of New Mexico's kids, teens, and young adults and it can have a life-long impact on our young people. Services offered by these programs - emergency shelter and transitional housing, life skills and job training, employment support and others – are critical to helping young New Mexicans gain independence and end the cycle of homelessness. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I'll continue working to support resources for critical programs that are working to combat homelessness for youth and families in communities across New Mexico."
“All children deserve to feel safe, have a roof over their head, and live free from domestic and sexual violence. I am proud of the work that these organizations are doing in northern New Mexico to provide youth with not just shelter, but also address their educational, employment, and health care needs," said Heinrich. "Children and teens experiencing homelessness in New Mexico need resources and support to find a more stable path. I will continue to support innovative programs that seek to end homelessness, keep youth and children safe, and help those most in need.
“Services provided by youth shelters and community outreach programs are vital to the Northern New Mexico communities they support,” Luján said. “This grant will help local shelters and outreach centers expand their services and continue to provide critical support and care to the most at-risk youth in the region, while providing them with the opportunities they need to succeed. Many Northern New Mexico youth continue to be impacted by homelessness and resource instability. These community programs provide a needed support structure that enables them to get ahead.”
Shelly Felt, Executive Director of Youth Shelters and Family Services, stated, "This critical funding will energize the best practices we share with DreamTree Project, and our partnership will help us provide services to those in desperate need in northern New Mexico. The grants, along with our private contributions, allow us to keep our doors open for young people who need a safe place to stay, complete their education, and get jobs."
Santa Fe Mayor Javier M. Gonzales said, “When we ended Veteran Homelessness in Santa Fe, we immediately set our sights on getting the young people who are homeless or in temporary, insecure housing off the streets next. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get there, but in Youth Shelters, we know we have a partner we can work with to build a solution – and this support from the federal level makes sure they have a foundation of strength they can use to change lives.”
Catherine Hummel, Executive Director of DreamTree Project, added, “Our collaboration on these programs enables us to reach more youth throughout northern New Mexico by bringing crucial resources to our state. We’re excited to embark on this project with Youth Shelters and Family Services and to see what new opportunities this offers our youth.”
Youth Shelters and Family Services has operated its Youth Emergency Shelter since 1980, its Transitional Living Program since 1990, and its Street Outreach Program since 1995. DreamTree Project has operated its Transitional Living Program in Taos since 2000.
Last year, Youth Shelters and Family Services achieved the following results: 68% of youth exited the Youth Emergency Shelter to safe and stable housing, and 71% exited the Transitional Living Program to safe and stable housing. In the Street Outreach Program, 98% of youth experienced increased well-being and safety by receiving food, clothing, and survival gear, and reduced their risk of sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. During the same period, 61% of youth who graduated from the DreamTree Project Transitional Living Program did so with earned income, and 90% exited the program to safe, stable housing solutions.
Through collaboration between Youth Shelters and Family Services and DreamTree Project, the organizations have successfully competed to secure more than $2 million in federal funding. These programs will directly benefit local youth who are experiencing housing instability.