The Jacksonville nonprofit JASMYN is adding a new safety-net resource center to support homeless young people at its Riverside campus.
At the groundbreaking ceremony Monday, leaders said the center is needed to help curb a surge in youth homelessness — especially among LGBT teens.
JASMYN Executive Director Cindy Watson said young people are often unsure of what to do if they’re kicked out of their homes.
“Having a dedicated place that’s very youth friendly for them to walk in the door and see adults say you’re welcome here. We’re here for you. Come on in. Let us get you a hot meal. Let us sit with you and help you figure out what to do to get stably housed,” Watson said.
The center will provide basic needs like showers, hot meals, laundry, and case management. It will not provide overnight shelter.
According to Watson, the needs of homeless youth population - which has seen a 145% increase in the past year - are not being met.
“There are not a lot of resources for young adults who are experiencing homelessness. There are few,” she said. “We have a few agency partners who do great work - but not nearly enough to meet the need.”
Watson said the goals of the center are to meet the immediate needs of homeless youth, as well as connect them to other services.
The center is being funded through private donations. Just over $11,000 of the $150,000 fundraising goal remains to be raised by the end of the year to unlock a matching gift.
The construction of the safety net center is underway and is set be completed next year, bringing the number of JASMYN’s buildings to three.
Board Chair Tina Wirth says she’s delighted with how far the organization has come.
“Jasmyn started from very humble roots, initially meeting inside public meeting rooms in the library,” she said. “And so to be here to this morning, when we are about to begin construction on a third building for this large campus we have now, it really says a lot about the tremendous growth of the organization over 25 years.”
JASMYN was founded in 1994 with a mission to support young, mostly LGBTQ people, in Northeast Florida.
The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.