Helping homeless youth

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PHOENIX -- A Valley organization has been helping homeless youth for years, but some of the money used to keep those kids off the streets is running out.

“I'm stable,” Anthony Roantes said. “I'm looking for a job and going to school and doing what I have to.”

It was only a year ago that Roantes called the streets of Phoenix his home.

“I had this hammock and I hung it wherever I could, like under a bridge or whatever,” Roantes said.

But the 21-year-old landed back on his feet thanks to the Tempe Youth Resource Center, which is part of a nonprofit called Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development.

“You can come in here and eat and get what you need,” Roantes said. "A shower, use the bathroom or whatever.”

The resource center also helped Roantes get into an apartment.

“Going to school is what basically pays my rent,” Roantes continued.

He was one of the lucky ones. Other homeless youth hoping for a place to live will have to wait a lot longer.
“Right now Tumbleweed operates 37 transitional and housing first beds for youth 18 to 25,” Jana Smith said. “In 2012, we will go down to 12 beds.”

Smith is the resource center's program manager. She said a three-year non-renewable grant responsible for funding some of the apartments will expire this year.

“For the amount of individuals that we have in our community that go to bed homeless each night, we only have a fraction of beds for those people,” Smith said.

“I remember wandering the streets out here and I would just end up getting high because I had no place to sleep,” Roantes said.

According to last year's annual report on Homelessness in Arizona; one of every 250 Arizonans experienced homelessness.

“What I think people forget is we continue to keep making cuts and those cuts have direct effects on people lives,” Smith said.

Which is why organizations like Tumbleweed are working hard to help this population of people get the resources they need to get back on track.

“There are people like me out there and people that are looking for the help and our accepting the help,” Roantes said.

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