New Avenues for Youth opens
New Avenues for Youth, which serves homeless and at-risk young people, soon will open its first satellite office as part of the shiny, modern complex at 165th Avenue and Stark Street that also houses Open School East and Rockwood Boys & Girls Club.
"Over the last couple of years as needs have migrated into East (Multnomah) County, we've gotten more involved" here, said Sean Suib, executive director of the Portland nonprofit organization. "We are just really excited to have a space to anchor the services we've been providing for a while" in the Gresham area. New Avenues has been offering some services out of the offices of Rosewood Initiative and also leased space at Open School.
"There is tremendous need in East Multnomah County," he said, noting that "demographically Rockwood has one of the highest concentrations of young people in the state and one of the highest poverty rates in the state. The consequence of that is there is often housing instability."
The new office, called the Youth Opportunity Center, will have a staff of about 12 people and will provide outreach and wraparound support for youths in East Multnomah County who don't have stable housing or are homeless. There also will be programming for LGBTQ youths, kids in foster care and youth caught up in sex trafficking.
In Portland, New Avenues is known for working with homeless kids, providing services, including housing, counseling, meals, showers, laundry, legal counsel and more.
But the group is changing its focus a bit, trying to work with youth before they have exhausted all their resources and end up on the street.
"Five or six years ago, we as an organization made the commitment to invest in earlier intervention and prevention, especially with kids aging out of foster care," Suib told the Outlook. "We want to address the issues of housing instability from further upstream."
New Avenues will show off its new Youth Opportunity Center at 454 S.E. 165th Ave. Wednesday, Jan. 24, to an invited group. It will open for clients in early spring. Suib expects most of the kids served will be aged 16 to 24.
The New Avenues facilities echo the sleek, modern architecture of the rest of the campus and uses the same bright lime-green paint accent color on walls.
Suib explained the Youth Opportunity Center will be a hub for local youths to get support such as those aging out of foster care. He said the majority of Portland kids aging out live east of 122nd Avenue.
Services will be provided to help young people get skills and training to find jobs. This will include training in "soft" skills such as resume preparation and workplace conflict resolution.
New Avenues employees will do outreach to find youths facing housing instability and provide them with support. Although there are no shelter beds at the Stark Street location, there will be a shower, laundry facilities, a kitchenette, classroom and a computer lab.
"The idea is to leverage the campus and the campus partners," he said. "Some of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club are struggling with issues of housing stability."
Suib said he is excited that New Avenues will be "part of the community in a way we haven't been before."