'One more piece of the puzzle.' County begins program to help homeless youth

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
San Juan County

FARMINGTON — After receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, San Juan County has launched a program to provide more housing options for youth at risk of homelessness.

The two-year grant allows the county to house 11 youth at a time through HUD houses. Youth ages 11 to 24 years old are eligible. This will be facilitated by a newly-hired Youth Homeless Navigator Amber Tibbetts, who works for the county’s juvenile services department.

“This is a great partnership which we hope will serve a population in need in our area,” San Juan County Juvenile Services Administrator Traci Neff said in a press release announcing the new program.

Some of the youth who will benefit from the program are young adults transitioning out of the juvenile detention center.

More:Grant funding could prevent young adults from becoming homeless

Clients will initially pay 30% of their rent. Over time, they will transition to paying the full rent and being self-sufficient.

While the grant money allows the county to provide housing, it does not pay for furniture or other home goods. The Farmington Fire Department, San Juan United Way and San Juan Safe Communities are currently accepting donations.

The program also aligns with the county’s efforts to address gaps in behavioral health services. A gap analysis completed earlier this year identified housing and transitional living as one of the gaps in San Juan County.

“This is one more piece of the puzzle toward a complete picture of a healthy community serving those in need of behavioral health services,” said County Commission Chairman Jack Fortner in the press release.

Commissioner Jim Crowley also expressed his support for the initiative in the press release.

“We want to provide an atmosphere where people in need of behavioral health services can find them and are able to make the changes necessary to become productive members of the community,” he said.

Referral forms for homeless youth are available by emailing Amber.Tibbetts@sjcounty.net. These forms will be processed by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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