Sanctuary seeks funds to help homeless teens

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The ?Sanctuary Outreach to the Streets? program had relied on a $200,000 a year federal grant to help homeless teens and young adults. (KFSN)

The "Sanctuary Outreach to the Streets" or SOS program had relied on a $200,000 a year federal grant to help homeless teens and young adults.

It's estimated there are more than 3,000 homeless teens on the streets in Fresno County. For nearly 20 years, the SOS program had relied on a $200,000 a year federal grant to help homeless teens and young adults. "This is an invisible population that for whatever reasons unable to access services or for whatever reasons not comfortable at an adult shelter," said Sanctuary Program Director Joe Martinez.

Martinez said there are many reasons so many young people are on the streets. "That they are not able to stay at home because home isn't a safe place, some kids get kicked out of home for various reasons. Some kids leave foster care and they age out of the system and there's no support network where these young people can go back to and have a family. "

The SOS program workers went out onto the streets at night, providing food and offering counseling and temporary housing to homeless teens and young adults.

Because of budget cuts the Federal grant that specifically funded street outreach programs like the one in Fresno have been cutback in cities all across the country. The Sanctuary is looking for help. Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said the county is looking at its options. "When we heard that they lost Federal funding we've been trying to figure out how we can help them. So we've been taking a look at County resources to see if there's any mental health or social service resources we can shift."

In the meantime, the sanctuary is launching a campaign to solicit public support.

Without the funding the program will continue on a reduced basis. In addition to the Sanctuary in downtown Fresno, there are other locations like the neighborhood thrift store that offers temporary refuge for homeless teens.

If you would like to donate to the SOS program click here.
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