PORTLAND, Ore. — For more than 20 years, New Avenues for Youth has been helping young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
The organization serves about 1,500 young people a year across a wide span of programs focused on both prevention, early intervention and intervention.
Sean Suib, executive director with New Avenues says young people who experience homelessness, have often experienced life long trauma. The pandemic is another layer of stress and trauma they're trying to manage.
"They're trying to shelter in place either outdoors if they don't have places or finding places to shelter that might not be safe where they may be subjected to domestic violence or abuse or sexual exploitation," Suib said.
New Avenues has expanded its hours to allow for more social distancing. They've also extended drop-in hours for clients to access basic survival needs such as food, clothing, showers, laundry and access to health professionals.
The non-profit is also expanding its services beyond in-person visits. Carina Mariscal Diaz, clinical program director at New Avenues says counselors are using technology to connect with their clients at a time when they can't see them in person.
"Using phones or computers to be able to connect to our therapists, often times our case manager or our other drop-in staff are connecting our youth to those resources in order to be able to participate in their mental health sessions."
They're stepping up in this crisis to help ensure the safety and well-being of at-risk youth during a pandemic.
Sean Suib says strain on the operation is significant during these trying times.
Find out how you can help New Avenues for Youth by visiting their website.