WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced $300,753 to support the DreamTree Project's Emergency Youth Shelter in Taos and outreach efforts throughout Northern New Mexico. The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, which offers grants designated to promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities. The two grants awarded to DreamTree Project, which are renewable for three years, will support an emergency shelter for youth ages 12 to 17 who need a safe place to stay, and outreach to youth ages 12 to 21 in Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, Taos and Union counties who are in need of shelter and housing, including youth who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
"DreamTree Project provides critical services to Northern New Mexico youth in need of a safe place to stay, and this funding will support the agency's important programs and expanded outreach to young people who need its services," Udall said. "Homelessness can have a life-long impact on children, teens and young adults, but services like those DreamTree Project offers — emergency shelter and transitional housing, life skills training, employment support and others — help young New Mexicans avoid falling into a cycle of homelessness, gain independence and learn the skills they need to live healthy productive lives. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I'll continue working to support resources for programs like DreamTree Project that provide stable housing and skills and job training to vulnerable youth in communities across New Mexico."
"Children and teens experiencing homelessness in New Mexico need resources and support to find a more stable path. I am grateful for the work that the DreamTree Project is doing in northern New Mexico to provide youth with not just shelter, but also address their educational, employment, and health care needs," said Heinrich. "The emergency youth shelter is a safe place for homeless youth and those in crisis. All children deserve to feel safe, have a roof over their head, and live free from domestic and sexual violence. I will continue to support innovative programs that seek to end homelessness, keep youth and children safe, and help those most in need."
"Poverty is a reality for far too many of New Mexico's young people – and as we work to improve the quality of education and increase the number of jobs in the state, organizations like the DreamTree Project are there to help provide some of our most vulnerable teens with a safe place to call home and the skills they need to improve their lives," Luján said. "All of our kids deserve the chance to learn and grow in a safe environment. The services provided by DreamTree help New Mexican teens overcome the burden of youth homeless and help them build the skills they need to move beyond poverty. I am grateful to DreamTree for their outstanding work and am grateful to HHS for their investment in our state that will allow this work to continue."
Catherine Hummel, Executive Director of DreamTree Project, said, "We are so grateful for this opportunity to expand our services throughout northern New Mexico. The Basic Center grant allows us to expand our Emergency Youth Shelter capacity from 8 to 12, providing shelter to more youth ages 12 to 17. The Street Outreach Program grant enables expansion of our existing outreach program, to include more direct outreach services to homeless and housing unstable youth. We are one of 46 Street Outreach Program grantees nationally and the only grantee in a rural area. That we were awarded both grants is testament that our programs are successful and primed for growth."
DreamTree Project has operated its Transitional Living Program in Taos since 2000 and its Emergency Youth Shelter in Taos since 2011. The agency provides housing, shelter, and services including case management, education, therapy, medical care, life skills training, and employment support to youth ages 12 to 24. More than 70 percent of youth served by DreamTree Project reunite with their family or move out of the DreamTree Project shelter and transitional living program apartments to live independently. Last year, DreamTree Project served more than 60 youth. DreamTree Project is the only agency in New Mexico enrolled in the National Safe Place Network, a national youth outreach and prevention program that aims to make help and safety immediately available to youth in communities across the country.
DreamTree Project has successfully competed to secure more than $1 million in federal funding this year. This spring, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the agency $120,632 in annual Continuum of Care funding to support the new Taos Rehousing Program. The program — a partnership between DreamTree Project, Taos Coalition to End Homelessness and Community Against Violence — provides rental assistance and supportive services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.