Newspaper article

Outside in Brutal Cold, Homeless Youths Hear about Shelters from Social Media

Newspaper article

Outside in Brutal Cold, Homeless Youths Hear about Shelters from Social Media

Article excerpt

Can you help us spread the word? YouthLink is open 24 hours for youth to use as a warming station during the extreme temps in Minnesota.

-- YouthLink (@YouthLinkMN) January 5, 2014

Extreme temperatures in recent days demonstrate the need for more emergency shelter beds for homeless youths, advocates say.

Fearful of the effects of the life-threatening cold on unaccompanied youth -- who often choose sleeping outside rather than sleeping in adult shelters -- Minneapolis authorities last weekend set up an emergency warming center at a downtown youth service center and outfitted it with 23 cots through last night.

As news of the center spread by word of mouth and social and news media, the beds filled.

At least two young men had been sleeping outside in double-digit arctic temperatures -- one in Powderhorn Park protected only by blankets and jackets and another on secluded public property in a tent, said Heather Huseby, executive director of YouthLink, the youth service organization that provided space for overnight guests.

"Both were extremely cold when they came to the center. One had white fingertips,'' she said, though neither needed medical care.

Frigid temperatures have caused at least two deaths in Minnesota and Wisconsin and dozens of cases of frostbite. Organizations serving the homeless around the state have stayed open around the clock to keep people safe this past week.

Extra beds

Realizing the extreme weather danger, Mikkel Beckman, who heads up the Office to End Homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County, took action. He contacted the county's emergency management team to pull together and deliver beds to the youth facility at 4100 N. 12th St., not far from the Twins' stadium in downtown Minneapolis. YouthLink normally closes the doors to its Youth Opportunity Center program at 9 p.m.

Beckman said authorities have been working to solve the problem of a shortage of emergency beds for persons in their teens to early 20s who say they don't feel safe staying in adult shelters. …

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