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Transitional home to house homeless youth in St. Joseph County

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It's a problem that won't go away: homeless teens and young adults, on the streets of South Bend, with no way to get back on their feet.

One local organization just received some much needed funds, to help change the course of their lives.

"With teenagers, the longer they are homeless, the more vulnerable they are to violent crime, at-risk for trafficking, we've seen that in the community," says Christina McGovern, the Director of Development and Marketing for the Youth Service Bureau of St. Joseph County.

McGovern says the numbers just keep rising. 

"We've estimated young people, homeless, unaccompanied youth is about one thousand in St. Joe County each year," she says. "It is a large number, especially in our community."

That number is just an estimate.

She believes there are more that go unreported. 

"A lot of young people aren't going to tell you they're homeless, right? They'll say, 'oh, I'm staying with so and so, and I'm crashing here," explains McGovern. "But they really don't have a reliable place to go."

But starting in mid-November, they will. 

Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, YSB can house some of these youth, and help them get on their feet. 

It's called the Keystone Program. 

McGovern says supportive housing is crucial.

"[It will help those' who are really needing some extra skills and backup, so they can become fully independent, self-sufficient, and confident and successful," she explains. 

Eight of those at-risk youth will be housed in four different apartments. 

They'll receive special classes, like financial literacy, to help them when they leave the program.

The program lasts 18 months.

"It's really important because you can't move on to be successful or do other things with your life, if you're constantly worried about where you're going to sleep," explains McGovern. 

Although she says, they're only able to help a fraction of those who need it, it's a step in the right direction.

"This program is only going to help eight out of the like one thousand young people who need," McGovern says. "There's certainly a need and we're excited to identify and help at least one little corner of it."

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