A renovated facility in South Salt Lake helps youth in crisisSep 08, 2022 11:47AM ● By Peri Kinder
Salt Lake County Youth Services held a ribbon cutting Aug. 11 to celebrate the renovation of the Runaway Homeless Youth Program facility (177 W. Price Ave.) in South Salt Lake. The program serves runaway and homeless youth, ages 8-17, for up to 21 days.
The renovation was focused on creating a trauma-informed environment with updated colors, open space designs and individualized bedrooms. New murals were painted by artists Alli VanKleeck and Caroline Kane of Smock & Roll.
“All the murals in the bedrooms are unique and different because our kids are unique and different and we didn’t want it to be the same in every bedroom,” said Salt Lake County Youth Services Director Carolyn Hansen. “We wanted it to be a special place for the youth that come, that we serve.”
Youth can stay in the facility for up to 21 days while they receive individual or family therapy, designed to help them return to a safe and stable environment, with follow-up support for 90 days.
Over the years, thousands of youth have turned to the facility for assistance with more than 110 youth being helped in 2022 so far. Four beds are dedicated for runaway homeless youth. Built in the 1990s, the building needed some upgrades in both function and design.
“We wanted a space that was welcoming and more homelike so the youth that we serve here, specifically our runaway homeless youth, will be able to come to a place where they feel comfortable and safe,” Hansen said.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson was on hand for the ribbon cutting and congratulated the staff and volunteers on the renovation.
“I walked through this space [before] and it was pretty crappy,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t great. I remember asking questions and hearing the vision for what this could be. And to see it now, it’s just stunning. It’s beautiful.”
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Program focuses on several goals to help those it serves. These include improving a person’s well-being, building healthy relationships, improving self-sufficiency and keeping youth off the streets.
The program collaborated with community partners to provide education, medical and dental services, mental health counseling, clothes, food and hygiene products. Other services provided on the county’s South Salt Lake campus include the juvenile receiving center which is open 24/7 to provide free crisis counseling and referral to community agencies, and the homeless youth walk-in program that gives youth access to food, counseling, shelter, showers and laundry facilities for 24 hours.
Youth can come to the facility on their own, or they might be brought in by parents or law enforcement. No appointment is required to access the services. For more information, visit slco.org/youth.
“If you look at the crisis moments that these kids are facing when they come in the doors, to be greeted with this amazing staff with smiles on their faces, but also a physical space that is worthy of moving them to a better situation,” Wilson said. “What a great place for a child to receive support.” λ