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Temporary homeless shelter for young adults opens in downtown Tacoma

Omar Rashid, right, an outreach worker with Community Youth Services, and volunteer Linda Rick, help set up 50 cots Monday for a cold weather shelter at Beacon Senior Center in Tacoma. The shelter is for young adults ages 18 to 24 experiencing homelessness.
Omar Rashid, right, an outreach worker with Community Youth Services, and volunteer Linda Rick, help set up 50 cots Monday for a cold weather shelter at Beacon Senior Center in Tacoma. The shelter is for young adults ages 18 to 24 experiencing homelessness. dperine@thenewstribune.com

Homeless young adults in Pierce County have a shelter open to them now and through the winter.

The Beacon Senior Center in downtown Tacoma opened its doors Monday, and will have about 40 beds available each night for people ages 18 to 24 through the end of March.

It’s the first time in about 30 years that homeless young adults in the county have had their own shelter, according to organizers.

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Activities at the senior center at 415 S. 13th St. will continue as usual during the day, but, in the evening, the cots will come out.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis for young people who need a place to stay. The shelter is available to them until 7 a.m.

The City of Tacoma, the nonprofit Community Youth Services-Pierce County, and other community groups worked to make the shelter happen.

Young people needing a place to stay can go to places such as the Tacoma Rescue Mission, but most don’t, said Community Youth Services director Kurt Miller.

Instead, young adults opt to stay outside.

Guests at the Beacon shelter will get dinner each night; the Rescue Mission is providing the food. During the week, a van will take them to Goodwill for breakfast in the morning.

Staff members and volunteers will help connect them with community resources, such as for education, employment and other needs.

Organizers hope to be ready to move to a permanent facility when the temporary shelter’s certificate of occupancy expires at the end of March.

“We are really working hard to get that site identified,” said Tacoma Human Services Division manager Pamela Duncan.

A permanent shelter would be open to the same age group, and another location would house 13- to 17-year-olds overnight. By law, the younger teenagers can’t stay with the older ones, Miller said.

People who want to help at the temporary shelter can call 253-256-3087, but the shelter likely won’t be ready for volunteers immediately.

“What we’re saying is please give us a week,” Miller said.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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